In Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district, the sinking of land beneath a damaged section of the highway leading to the Hindu shrine of Badrinath continues, posing ongoing challenges for road stability. Despite efforts by the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (NHIDCL) to address the issue by filling sunken stretches with soil and using earthmoving machines to level the road, the situation is worsening. The land beneath the affected 100-meter stretch is caving in toward the Alaknanda river due to erosion at the base of the slope, which has been accelerated by the fast-flowing river.

Local residents from Palethi village near Maithana expressed concerns that this ongoing issue could lead to further road damage, causing inconvenience to both locals and pilgrims. The Char Dham Hindu shrines in the high Himalayas, including Badrinath, attract millions of pilgrims during the annual pilgrimage season from May to September. This year, the pilgrimage has faced multiple disruptions due to landslides and cave-ins along the Char Dham highway, attributed to ill-planned construction that has destabilized slopes and accelerated soil erosion.

NHIDCL workers are currently engaged in filling the sunken stretches, but continuous vehicular movement on the highway is hampering efforts to prevent further sinking. Permanent treatment of the area is being planned, starting from the base of the Alaknanda river, to address the issue comprehensively once the monsoon season subsides.

To mitigate soil erosion and land sinking in the region, an agroforestry expert has recommended eco-friendly slope stabilization interventions for the all-weather Char Dham road construction project. These interventions could include planting grasses such as khus khus (Vetiver spp.), Doob (Cynodon spp.), lemon grass, and other perennial grasses, along with shrubs like berberis and bamboo, which are effective in stabilizing slopes while being ecologically beneficial and cost-effective.

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