25-28 Army buildings in Joshimath developed minor cracks, soldiers temporarily relocated: General Manoj Pande

New Delhi [India], January 12 (ANI): Minor cracks were observed in several buildings of the Indian Army after the Joshimath land subsidence and soldiers have been temporarily relocated, said Indian Army Chief General Manoj Pande on Thursday.

Addressing the annual Army Day press conference, General Pande said, “25-28 buildings (of Army) have developed minor cracks and the soldiers have been temporarily relocated. If needed they will be permanently relocated to Auli.” Despite the ongoing crisis, the Army chief affirmed that the army’s accessibility to the forward areas has not been affected.

“As far as the bypass road (in Joshimath, Uttarakhand) is concerned, the work has been temporarily halted. But our accessibility to forward areas and operational readiness has not been affected,” Army Chief said.

General Pande also said that the army is working towards providing all possible assistance to the local administration regarding the crisis.

Earlier today, the Uttarakhand state government announced a relief package of Rs 45 crore to families in Joshimath, where large cracks appeared in homes and on roads.

Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said that the relief package has been released for nearly 3,000 families affected by gradual land subsidence in the Himalayan state.

“For the time being, interim assistance of Rs 1.50 lakh per family is being given. An advance amount of Rs 1 lakh has been given to the affected land owners or families due to landslides in the affected area before the permanent settlement displacement policy is prepared,” Dhami told reporters.

The Chief Minister also announced that Rs 50,000 has been given by the state disaster authority to each family as a non-adjustable one-time special grant for the transportation of goods and immediate needs of their buildings.

Due to landslides in the Joshimath city area, over 720 buildings have been identified that developed cracks. Residents, as a part of the rehabilitation, have been moved to safer places even as geologists and experts scramble to ascertain the reasons for subsidence in the ecologically fragile region.

Officials have stopped construction projects in the region and the government formed a committee to look into the incident and the situation arising out of the sudden crisis.

Dhami has instructed the Chief Secretary to ensure speedy assistance to people affected by the sinking of their town and will hold a meeting with army officers and ITBP officers for the transparent distribution of interim package to families affected by landslides and to determine the rate of rehabilitation package.