‘A time bomb’: India’s sinking holy town faces grim future

by | Mar 1, 2023 | Religion

JOSHIMATH, India (AP) — Inside a shrine overlooking snow-capped mountains, Hindu priests heaped spoonfuls of puffed rice and ghee into a crackling fire. They closed their eyes and chanted, hoping their prayers would somehow turn back time and save their holy — and sinking — town.For months, the roughly 20,000 residents in Joshimath, burrowed in the Himalayas and revered by Hindu and Sikh pilgrims, have watched the earth slowly swallow their community. They pleaded for help that never arrived, and in January their desperate plight made it into the international spotlight.
But by then, Joshimath was already a disaster zone. Multistoried hotels slumped to one side; cracked roads gaped open. More than 860 homes were uninhabitable, splayed by deep fissures. And instead of saviors they got bulldozers that razed swaths of the town.
The holy town was built on piles of debris left behind by landslides and earthquakes. Scientists have warned for decades that Joshimath could not withstand the level of heavy construction that has recently been taking place.
“Cracks are widening every day and people are in fear. … It’s a time bomb,” said Atul Sati, an activist with the Save Joshimath Committee.
Joshimath’s future is at risk, experts and activists say, due in part …

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