Why Joshimath residents have moved back to unsafe houses


A year ago, images from the Joshimath, in Uttarakhand, were evoking shock across the country. Early in January 2023, as a result of a sudden increase in land subsidence, the ground split open in many places across the town. The walls and roofs of hundreds of homes also cracked, forcing families to flee to temporary relief centres.

A year later, Joshimath is not in the headlines. But its crisis is far from resolved. 

As Vaishnavi Rathore found after travelling to the town, though the government assured residents in unsafe houses that they would be resettled, none have been resettled so far. In desperation, some have returned to unsafe homes. They told Rathore that in the absence of resettlement measures, and with insufficient compensation paid to them, they were left with no option.

“Walking through Joshimath was an eerie feeling with so many locked and abandoned homes with red crosses on their walls,” Rathore said. “When I started speaking with people, I realised how precarious their lives had been in the last year, and that this sense of temporariness had no clear ending in sight.”

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Ajay Krishnan
Senior Editor

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