Uttarakhand's Selang village is going Joshimath way, say locals; blame NTPC
Selang, a village around five km from subsidence-hit Joshimath in Uttarakhand, is likely to meet a similar fate as cracks and fissures have been appearing in fields and several houses for the past few months.
Located on Badrinath National Highway (NH-58), residents of Selang said they are scared and the Joshimath crisis has only deepened their fears.
The villagers hold the construction of the National Thermal Power Corporation’s (NTPC) Tapovan-Vishnugad hydel project responsible for their plight.
Tunnels of the project are built underneath the village. A hotel situated along the NH near the mouth of one of these tunnels collapsed in July 2021 and petrol pump nearby was also partially damaged, Selang resident Vijendra Lal told PTI.
The houses located near the collapsed hotel are also at risk, he said.
“Nine NTPC tunnels are built underneath the village. A lot of explosives were used to construct the tunnels which has damaged the foundation of the village,” Lal claimed.
“A water discharge system is also being built 100 metres down the main settlement area in the village. A few metres from it towards the village cracks have begun to appear,” he said, adding that around 15 houses have “developed cracks”.
Selang village’s van panchayat sarpanch Shishupal Singh Bhandari said the life of residents has become miserable due to the NTPC project.
“Many applications were sent, but no action was taken,” Bhandari said
“The damage started about one decade ago when NTPC began digging its tunnels in the area. When people protested, NTPC got insurance of the houses done through a private company. But now when houses are developing cracks, it is running away from compensating the house owners,” he said.
Bhandari said some people of the village who work in the NTPC project keep telling about the blasting work done frequently inside the tunnels.
“If it goes on, the situation in the village will worsen,” he said.
“The situation in Selang is not as bad as that in Joshimath, but if corrective action is not taken soon it may meet the same fate,” Mahila Mangal Dal president of the village Bhawani Devi said.
(With agency inputs)