The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and the Uttarakhand government have ordered several state institutions, including the ISRO, not to interact with the media or share information on social media about Joshimath’s situation without prior approval.
The National Disaster Management Authority has prohibited government institutions from interacting with the media and sharing data on social media regarding ground subsidence.
The ISRO-NRSC report that clearly showed the slow and fast subsidence of the land in Joshimath since April 2022 is not available in the public domain. When one clicks on http://www.nrsc.gov.in, it takes the user to the ‘Not Found’ page.
The organization later withdrew the report stating that it was being negatively misinterpreted. A report published by the National Remote Sensing Center (NRSC) of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) on its website revealed that the revered city of Joshimath sank -5.4 cm in a period of just 12 days.
“It is observed that various government institutions are posting data related to the issue on the social media platform, and they are also interacting with the media with their own interpretation of the situation. It is creating confusion not only among the affected residents but also among the citizens of the country,” the NDMA letter says, adding that the issue was highlighted during a meeting chaired by the Union Home Minister on 12 January.
Environmentalist Vimlendu Jha took to Twitter and shared a copy of the memo from the National Disaster Management Authority, which has called on government organizations to refrain from sharing information with media organizations and social media platforms.
“In any sane society n democracy, voices/opinions of experts/scientists is encouraged,more so to prevent any danger or mitigate the losses. Unfortunately, HM Shah has banned them on speaking on #Joshimath, n ISRO has now withdrawn its report on the sinking town. INSANELY irresponsible(Sic),” Vimlendu wrote in his tweet.
The NDMA called on the organizations to sensitize their experts on the issue, adding that they should refrain from posting anything on media platforms until the NDMA publishes the final report of the expert group.
In a similar communication, the Uttarakhand government conveyed to the organizations that some of the institutions and agencies are publishing and uploading information or reports about Joshimath without due permission from the concerned authorities, which is negatively affecting the situation on the ground and causing panic among the community.
The Uttarakhand government said the subsidence of the ground around Joshimath has worsened and the authorities are taking all necessary measures for housing safety in the affected areas.
The state government has deployed a team of experts from various scientific and technical institutions to assess the situation and provide mitigation measures for the town.
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