Jammu, February 3
Wide cracks have started to appear on roads and walls of houses in Thathri in Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir, forcing the administration to evacuate over 250 persons.
While minor cracks surfaced in Nai Basti in Thathri a month ago, the situation turned grim when the area witnessed landslides over the past four days. The cracks are reminiscent of a similar crisis in Uttarakhand’s Joshimath where the state government has been demolishing several houses and hotels after declaring them unsafe.
A total of 19 houses, a mosque and a madrasa were declared unsafe by the administration and teams of experts, including the Geological Survey of India, the National Highways Authority of India and engineers from hydropower projects in neighbouring Kishtwar district.
Doda Deputy Commissioner Vishesh Paul Mahajan said a relief camp had been set up in the district. He said the exact cause of the cracks and the landslides would be ascertained by a team of experts. “Our priority is to rescue the residents and provide them relief,” he said. Locals alleged that heavy machinery was used to level a piece of land, though the authorities claimed it was a natural phenomenon as the area was landslide-prone.
Union Minister Jitendra Singh tweeted, “I am in touch with the Doda DC. A relief camp has been set up for the residents. A geological survey team is already on its way to the affected spot to study the underlying causative factors. Short and long-term remedial measures, as required, will be undertaken.”
The relief camp has been established at the Boys’ Higher Secondary School and pre-fabricated structures would be used in case more people needed to be adjusted.
Shaukat Ahmed, a local, alleged that the administration was informed about the issue weeks ago, but no action was taken. “It was only after the situation turned grim that the government woke up. Most of the people are living in this area for over 20 years. Now, they are being asked to move out from here,” said Zahida, another resident.
SDM Athar Amin Zargar said 21 structures had been declared unsafe so far. “The damage to these structures is permanent. The area is near the Chenab river,” the SDM said, adding that only six houses had developed cracks till Thursday, but the impact was visible on more structures today.
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