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What government said on Joshimath cracks in parliament?

During a parliamentary session, the government was questioned about the Joshimath landslide incident. In response, Union Minister of State

By Ground report
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During a parliamentary session, the government was questioned about the Joshimath landslide incident. In response, Union Minister of State for Environment, Forest, and Climate Change, Ashwini Kumar Choubey, reiterated that the work on the Tapovan-Vishnugad hydroelectric project and Helang Marwari Bypass was halted after the disaster. However, he failed to mention that the work on the Helang bypass was resumed later.

The minister stated that back in 1976, the Mishra committee, formed by the then Uttar Pradesh government, had warned about the possibility of landslides and local subsidence in Joshimath. The committee, consisting of 18 members, proposed several short-term and long-term measures based on the expertise and resources available at that time, but the Uttarakhand government is yet to take action on these recommendations.

In a written reply provided in the Rajya Sabha, the minister emphasized that disaster management, including relief distribution and rehabilitation, primarily falls under the responsibility of the state government. The Central Government offers financial and logistic support as per the established procedure.

“The Uttarakhand government is required to take action on the recommendation of the Mishra Committee,” said Minister of State Ashiwini Kumar Choubey, responding to a question about measures taken after the Joshimath crisis. The statement comes at a time when incessant rain has caused further cracks in the disaster-stricken city.

“As per the National Policy on Disaster Management, the primary responsibility of disaster management, including disbursal of relief and rehabilitation of the people affected due to the disaster also rests with the State Government. The Central Government provides necessary financial and logistics support as per the established procedure,” he told the Rajya Sabha.

“The situation is being continuously monitored at various levels in the State and the Central Government. Also, the central and state governments are working closely with all the agencies involved to mitigate the effect of land subsidence in the Joshimath area,” he added.

Surprisingly, even after six months, the Uttarakhand government has failed to provide permanent assistance to those affected by the landslide.

The minister assured that the situation is being constantly monitored by various levels of the state and central government. They are working in close coordination with all relevant agencies to minimize the impact of landslides in the Joshimath region. However, the reports from these agencies have not been made public yet.

It added that the Central Government had framed a detailed procedure for the evaluation of the environmental and social impacts of development projects, which is prescribed in the 2006 Environmental Impact Assessment Notification and is periodically modified.

“Environmental authorizations are issued only after a detailed study and analysis of development projects as notified and subject to compliance with necessary environmental safeguards. Specific project conditions related to security measures, such as the installation of an early warning telemetry system, the implementation of the emergency preparedness plan, the disaster management plan, the dam failure analysis, the treatment plan of the catchment area, stabilization of manure disposal sites, border planting, pasture development, nursery development, etc. they are also prescribed in the environmental authorizations for hydroelectric projects”, he added.

Regarding environmental concerns, the Central Government follows a detailed procedure for assessing the environmental and social impacts of developmental projects.

The Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2006, outlines the process, including screening, scoping, public consultation, and evaluation by the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC). Environmental clearance for projects is granted only after thorough study and compliance with necessary environmental safeguards.

The ministry has given environmental clearance to various projects in the last decade, including the Vishnugad Pipalkoti Hydroelectric Project (444 MW capacity), the aerial passenger ropeway from Ghangaria to Hemkund Sahib (Phase-I), and the sanitary landfill in Joshimath tehsil of Chamoli district. All these clearances are granted following proper procedures and incorporating essential environmental safeguards.

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