New Delhi: The Uttarakhand high court on Wednesday (September 20) criticised the state government for not making the reports on the Joshimath subsidence public.
“We see no reason that the state should keep the reports prepared by the experts secret and not disclose the same to the public at large,” the bench comprising Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Alok Kumar Verma said, according to the Times of India.
It further said: “In fact, circulation of the said reports would provide vital information to the public, and the public would have confidence in them that the state is serious about dealing with the situation.”
The court made these remarks when reports prepared by eight Union government institutes tasked to study Joshimath’s subsidence were placed in a sealed cover.
In January this year, the high court, upon reviewing a petition, had directed the state government to involve certain experts in the study of Joshimath’s subsidence.
But it found that even after eight months, the government had not complied with its order.
Uttarakhand’s Joshimath town has a history of experiencing subsidence (the sinking of its land) due to a combination of having been built on weak land and being a construction hub.
Over 300 families in Joshimath were displaced in January this year after subsidence caused cracks to appear in hundreds of buildings.
Soon after the cracks were reported, eight Union government institutes began analysing the reasons for the town’s land subsidence.
The newspaper also reported that it had accessed the eight institutes’ reports.
It said that the Central Building Research Institute, the nodal agency among the eight institutes, had found that out of 2,364 houses it analysed in Joshimath, 20% were ‘unusable’, 42% needed ‘further assessment’, 20% were ‘usable’ and 1% needed to be ‘demolished’.
The bench was hearing a recall application by the state government over the chief secretary’s personal appearance. During the hearing, the petitioner’s counsel, Snigdha Tiwari, pointed out that the reports were placed in a sealed cover.