Army chief General Manoj Pande said some Indian troops have been relocated from areas surrounding Uttarakhand’s ‘sinking’ town of Joshimath, bordering China. Pande’s statement comes even as the Uttarakhand government Thursday told the Delhi high court that authorities are rehabilitating families affected due to land subsidence in Joshimath, and that the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) have been deployed in the area.
“We remain prepared to relocate more units if required, but our operational preparedness remains intact,” Bloomberg quoted Pande as saying in an annual address on the state of the army’s operations. “There has been no impact on our readiness,” the Chief of Army Staff added.
The report, however, claimed that Pande didn’t give details on how many soldiers would be moved away for safety but said more than 20 military installations around Joshimath have sustained “medium to minor damage”. Without naming China, the army chief further said they have been able to prevent all attempts to change the status quo (on the LAC) in a robust manner.
“In a firm and resolute manner with our soldiers deployed along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), we have been able to prevent any attempts by (the) adversary to unilaterally change the status quo in a robust manner,” news agency ANI quoted Pande as saying.
Massive cracks have appeared in hundreds of houses of Joshimath, the gateway to some renowned pilgrimage sites, including Badrinath, Hemkund Sahib and the international skiing destination Auli.
The Supreme Court is set to hear a plea on January 16 after cracks began to appear in more than 600 buildings in the tiny town. The petition seeks to halt the construction of a hydroelectric project that it says is causing the sinking. The crisis has reignited a decades-old development versus environment debate in the region.