Joshimath hotel owners protest at 'abrupt' demolition move, demand one-time settlementtext_fields
Joshimath (Uttarakhand): Owners of hotels that had been badly affected by the land sinking in Joshimath took exception to the Uttarakhand government's move on Tuesday to raze the hotel buildings.
The owners opposed the move as too 'abrupt' and without any information being given to them, reported PTI.
The state government, had on Monday, decided to mechanically demolish 'Mount View' and 'Malari Inn' hotels which showed huge cracks recently and were leaning towards each other, posing a risk to the nearby settlements.
Ranjit Sinha, Secretary, Disaster Management told reporters that the expertise of Central Building Research Institute, Roorkee has been enlisted for the demolition exercise.
The distraught hotel owners said they came to know about the development through newspapers and demanded that a one-time settlement plan should have been offered to them before the decision was made.
"I came to know about it through newspapers this morning. There was no prior notice. If the government demarcated my hotel as unsafe, it should have first come up with a one-time settlement plan before deciding to demolish it," Thakur Singh, who owns Malari Inn, said.
"The SDM told me to be here as he was reaching here by 9 am. I have built this hotel with my sweat and blood. What will happen to me if it is demolished just like that?" Singh, who belongs to Bhotia tribe, told PTI.
The reaction of the owner of Mount View owner Lalmani Semwal was no different. "It is like slaying a child one has reared through years of hard work in front of his parent," he said.
"We put in all our resources into building this hotel. We paid regular taxes to the government. It said nothing then and now all of a sudden, it comes up with a drastic decision like this. Isn't it violation of human rights?
"... at least, we should be offered a one-time settlement plan as compensation on the lines of Badrinath," Semwal said.
Meanwhile, power supply lines to the hotels and surrounding areas were cut off by the administration ahead of the demolition move, disrupting electricity supply to around 500 houses in the vicinity.
Chief Secretary SS Sandhu had ordered the demolition of buildings located in high risk zone at Joshimath and speedy evacuation of the affected people, saying "every minute was important".
Joshimath, the gateway to famous pilgrimage sites like Badrinath and Hemkund Sahib and international skiing destination Auli, is facing a major challenge due to land subsidence.
Joshimath has been showing signs of earth depression with huge cracks developing in houses, on roads and fields. Many houses have tilted and are sinking, locals said.