Joshimath is a symptom, the disease is the uncontrolled growth model.
What is unfolding in Joshimath is a tragedy. But this tragedy is not due to climate change; climate change-linked extreme events may have exacerbated the situation, but the sinking of Joshimath is our doing.
The fact is this disaster is not unexpected; it was foretold. Over 50 years, the sinking of Joshimath has been documented by multiple committees of the Supreme Court and the Union and state governments. They warned against haphazard urbanization, large-scale hydropower development and cutting of hills to widen roads. But time and again, their warnings were ignored. The result is that the fate of Joshimath is sealed. Even with engineering solutions, a part of this historic city will have to be abandoned, and the rest will struggle to survive. So, how have we reached this stage, and how do we prevent many more Joshimath’s in the future?