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Joshimath: Heaters Provided, Bonfires Arranged And Rooms Increased At Relief Camps As 38 More Families Evacuated

An amount of Rs 1.87 crore has been distributed as interim assistance among the 125 affected families so far and the Central Building Research Institute (CBRI) has also been allowed to assist in building prefabricated houses for the affected people who own land in safe zones.

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Joshimath; Demolition of unsafe buildings
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With icy winds sweeping the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, the administration on Saturday provided electric heaters to temporary relief centres in subsidence-hit Joshimath even as 38 more families were evacuated from the affected areas, officials said. The government also made arrangements for bonfires at 10 places, they said. 

A total of 223 families have been evacuated so far to safety, Disaster Management Secretary Ranjit Sinha said. 

The demolition of hotel Malari Inn went on amid stepped-up efforts to distribute the amount of Rs 1.50 lakh to each affected family as interim relief. 

Govt steps up efforts at relief camps

An amount of Rs 1.87 crore has been distributed as interim assistance among the 125 affected families so far, Sinha said, adding that the Central Building Research Institute (CBRI) has also been allowed to assist in building prefabricated houses for the affected people who own land in safe zones.

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The number of rooms at relief camps has been increased to 615 which can accommodate about 2,190 people, the officials said.  

The number of houses developing cracks has risen to 782 in Joshimath where areas situated in Gandhinagar, Singdhar, Manohar Bagh and Sunil wards have been declared unsafe.   

Compensation to be made

Meanwhile, Chamoli District Magistrate Himanshu Khurana said the resettlement and rehabilitation package for the affected people is being prepared in accordance with what the stakeholders want. 

Khurana who met affected people staying in relief camps in Joshimath said the stakeholders want to be compensated in different ways. 

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"Some want cash compensation, some have their own land where they want to build houses... There are others who want to be relocated elsewhere within Joshimath. We have to keep all this in mind while preparing a resettlement or rehabilitation package so that it is in everybody's interest and sustainable," Khurana said.

No talks with the media 

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has asked government organisations and experts to not talk to the press over the Joshimath crisis. 

The Uttarakhand government has also issued similar instructions. The news of the gag orders comes after a report from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) saying that Joshimath sunk 5.4 cms within 12 days was taken off the website without any explanation. 

While the NDMA and the Uttarakhand government have reasoned that the instruction is essential as over a dozen organisations are involved in the ongoing crisis in Joshimath and information released by various organisation is leading to confusion, the Opposition has criticised the gag order and has said that the government should not shoot the messengers — the officials and agencies involved. 

The ISRO, which released the report on Joshimath's sinking, is among the agencies issued the gag order. The other agencies include Central Building Research Institute (CBRI Roorkee), Geological Survey of India (GSI), Surveyor General of India (SGI), IIT Roorkee, Uttarakhand State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA), etc., according to a copy of the order shared online. 

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State Cabinet minister Dhan Singh Rawat who has been camping in Joshimath since Friday said things are gradually returning to normal in the town and there is no need for anyone to panic. 

An apparent sinking of land is being blamed for cracks developing in hundreds of houses and buildings in Joshimath -- a town of 17,000 people which is a gateway to Hindu and Sikh shrines and also draws trekkers in parts of the Himalayas.

(with PTI inputs)

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