Uttarakhand: Paingadh village residents forced to take shelter in relief camps


Paingadh: Like subsidence-hit Joshimath, villagers of Paingadh village in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand have also been forced to leave their houses due to landslides and cracks appearing in their accommodations.

The hapless villagers are taking shelter in relief camps, tin sheds and even schools.

More than 40 families of the village, which is among the oldest settlements on the bank of the Pindar River near Tharali on the Karnaparayag-Almora National Highway, have become homeless and are living like refugees.

There are over 90 families in the village living there for generations.

The problem of landslides began in the village in 2013 with the Kedarnath disaster, but the matter worsened in October 2021 when cracks began to appear in fields above the village.

“The cracks were small initially and in a year’s time, they widened into holes,” Gopal Dutt, a villager, said.

On October 21 last year, a landslide occurred at around the same place where cracks had appeared and huge boulders fell on houses, killing four people.

The rubble of this landslide has affected almost half of the village and people who used to live in the zone have had to leave their homes and take shelter elsewhere, he said.

Some of the affected families have taken shelter in the houses of relatives, while others have shifted to a school building in the village. .

The only government primary school of the village has been turned into a relief camp, forcing authorities to hold the classes in the junior high school building about one kilometer away.

Children aged between 5-11 years have to walk to their school and also cross a stream on the way.

“There is no proposal yet to resume classes in the primary school building. Something definitive about it can be said only after the district administration makes a rehabilitation policy for the village,” Education Officer of Tharali block, Adarsh Kumar told PTI.

Meanwhile, Chamoli District Disaster Management Officer N K Joshi said a tin shed is being built in a secure location where the affected people of the village will be shifted.

However, a villager, Surendra Lal, alleged the shed is being built near a pine forest where there is no water or electricity supply.

One cannot go on foot to the place which can also pose a danger to lives during summer when pine leaves easily catch fire, Lal said.

Dutt said the government was requested to give readymade or prefabricated houses to the affected, but no progress has been made.

The affected families were given Rs 5,000 as disaster relief by the government four months ago.

“Geological scientists also conducted a survey of the village after the landslide, but no one knows what came out of it,” Surendra Lal said.

Jagmohan Singh Gadiya, who retired from the Army and lives in the landslide-affected zone, said, “I now regret my pledge not to migrate from my village”.

District Disaster Management officer Joshi said owners of the damaged houses have been given compensation as per norms. Relocation will be done in accordance with the rehabilitation policy and safe locations are being identified, he said.

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( With inputs from )

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