Scientists led by Ravi Chopra countered this claim by pointing out that the tunnel is “located a mere 1.1 km away from Joshimath if the tunnel is seen horizontally”.
It is, therefore, a great surprise to learn that both the National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee and the GSI have given a clean chit to the NTPC, especially because the former institute had stated there was a clear link between subsidence in Joshimath and the subsurface water in the form of numerous springs in the western part of the city.
Atul Sati, spearheading the Joshimath Bachao Sangharsh Samiti (JBSS) also expressed concern at the clean chit. “The root of the problem is the construction of the NTPC’s Vishnugad–Tapovan hydro project. Back in 2005, when it was started, the GSI itself had questioned its efficacy.
A reference to its critical findings was made in a report prepared in 2010 by two scientists including Dr A.P.S. Bisht; but the critical findings of the GSI seem to have disappeared from the public domain and official records,” he said.
Sati also questioned why scientists from these nine technical institutes were not allowed to go public with their findings prepared almost eight months ago.
What gives an even more alarming dimension to this whole debate is that the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology indicated that cracks may increase further in Joshimath as it falls within a high seismic zone. The Wadia Institute found that between 13 January and 12 April 2023, their seismic network recorded 16 micro-earthquakes of maximum magnitude 1.5 within a 50 km radius around Joshimath.
‘The present and past seismic activity has a similar trend of increasing seismicity to the south and south-west mainly concentrated around the epicentre of the Chamoli earthquake,’ it noted. In 1999, Chamoli witnessed a devastating earthquake, which left over a hundred dead and destroyed thousands of homes.