The Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) report compiled by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has come up with several “ground-breaking” recommendations with regard to subsidence-hit Joshimath town and similar towns and cities in the hills of Uttarakhand.
In the report, it has been recommended that “no construction shall be allowed within 250m of the landslide areas shown under the Landslide Hazard Zonation (LHZ) map of the state in the mountainous region.”
Significantly, the public works department (PWD) has identified around 333 landslide-prone “danger zones” in the hills of Uttarakhand.
Moreover, no type of construction shall be be allowed up to 50m on either side of the seismic fault line, the report stated. It goes on to add that the maximum height (including stilt) of all buildings in hilly areas falling under seismic zone-V should not exceed 7.5m (24 feet). The report has recommended slope roofs in 50% of houses in the hilly areas of the state.
According to the Earthquake Zonation Map of India, large swathes of land in Uttarakhand — Pithoragarh, Bageshwar, Chamoli and Rudraprayag districts together with some areas of Almora, Champawat, Tehri, Uttarkashi and Pauri Garhwal district — fall in Zone V, while the remaining area falls in Zone IV. The report, submitted in April-May this year but made public along with separate reports by eight premier institutions only recently, also recommended a “complete ban on new construction in the entire Joshimath area till the end of monsoon season”.
“After the rainy season, reassessment of the ground conditions can be done and some relaxation on new construction with prefabricated lightweight structures in comparatively safer areas may be thought of,” said the report.
NDMA in its PDNA report permitted retrofitting of old buildings and single storey public buildings with prefab structures for critical emergency services only — police station, fire station, hospital, school buildings, etc.
It suggested demolition of “highly damaged buildings in the area” via mechanical and manual means “and the debris generated should be segregated and dumped at suitable sites”.
In another key recommendation, NDMA has suggested regular monitoring of the entire area to understand the ground movement, besides asking for installation of a ground-based early warning system.
On the Helang-Marwari bypass project, which will enable Badrinath pilgrims to skip Joshimath, NDMA has recommended expediting the construction of the road in order to reduce the traffic load on the “sinking” town.