M A I N   N E W S

Tale of a sinking Jammu village
Raju William/TNS

Udhampur, September 26
After Leh, it’s the turn of a village in Jammu & Kashmir’s Ramban district to face nature’s wrath. Though there are no casualties this time, the fear factor is almost similar. The entire hillock on which the village — Batpora, 200 km from Jammu — stands has started sliding, causing extensive damage to all 41 houses, forcing the panic-stricken residents to move out.

The dwellings, housing over 500 residents, have been rendered inhospitable due to widening cracks that first started appearing on Saturday evening. By Sunday night, the cracks, spread in about one-and-a-half-km area, had become 2 feet in size.

The district administration and the police have swung into action and Deputy Commissioner, Ramban, KB Magotra, is already camping in the area. The cracks have also appeared on the approach road to the village.

“We came to know about the incident at around 9 pm on Saturday. A police team along with Tehsiladar, Gool, reached the area immediately. Reinforcements were called after seeing the situation,” said Magotra, while talking to The Tribune over phone.

The DC said the entire hillock on which the village stands was sliding continuously. “Prima facie this could be the reason behind all this damage. But we have called a team of geologists of Konkan Railway Corporation Limited (KRCL) to study the exact cause of the damage and ascertain whether it is of temporary or permanent nature,” said Magotra.

Since the continuous sliding of the hillock has affected houses in the radius of 3-4 km in the area, the rehabilitation of villagers is the first thing on the agenda of the district administration.

“We have provided utensils and bedding to the affected people through the District Red Cross Society. The Army (Rashtriya Rifles), the police and residents of nearby areas are pitching in relief operations. Some of the people have been shifted to government buildings at Dharam and Sangaldam. Arrangements are being made to provide them temporary shelter,” said the DC.

The district administration has requested the Jammu Divisional Commissioner to provide blankets. The Army has been approached to provide tents. “Those affected will be provided relief as per norms under the National Calamity Relief Fund after assessment of losses,” announced Magotra.

The villagers, however, are anxious. “We were asked to shift our belongings, ration and cattle to safer places at around 2 am after the cracks grew bigger in size,” said Ghulam Abbas (30), a resident of the area.

Though Abbas appreciated the police and the administration for quickly responding to their distress call, he said a lot more needs to be done.

“The tent given to my family, that has many members, is too small. We are taking help of our relatives. As the weather is turning harsh, we have requested the DC to provide us a temporary shed till some permanent arrangement is made,” he added.

Notably, the area comes under the ambitious rail project linking Udhampur and Qazigund in Kashmir. But now, it seems, a rethinking has to be done. Around two years back, a landslide had occurred at the same place, damaging a portion of a government school building.





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