Shimla water crisis day 8: Authorities in Shimla have ordered a crackdown on illegal water connections as the city continued to battle with an acute water crisis for the eighth day today. The deepening crisis in Himachal Pradesh’s capital city has led to agitation and anger among citizens as people have been forced to queue up for hours in order to get water for their households. Shimla Deputy Commissioner Amit Kashyap informed that the administration had received complaints regarding illegal connections and action has been initiated into the matter.
“I received a couple of complaints regarding the illegal connections of water and they were correct. So, I have ordered the seizure of the same and have told the concerned people to take appropriate action against the culprits,” Kashyap told ANI, adding that the directions to initiate action came from the Chief Minister and Chief Secretary of the state. “I myself visited some spots in order to take a stock of the situation. Investigation in the case has been ordered and the culprits will not be spared,” he added.
Following a direction of Himachal Pradesh High Court, Shimla municipal corporation has issued orders to disconnect 40 water supply connections to hotels which have not paid water bills for long. The situation in Shimla is such that locals have advised tourists to avoid visiting the hill city this vacation season. The municipal corporation is distributing water under police protection with over 70 police personnel specifically deployed to deal with the situation in the hill station. The corporation has deployed 27 tankers to distribute 2.25 lakh litres of water at 63 points in the city.
Jasvir Singh, a mineral water wholesale trader, has said that the demand for packed water has risen by 50-60 percent following the shortage. “Usually I supply 400 packs of water bottles but now the demand has increased to 700 plus for retailers,” Singh told ANI.
The crisis has hit the tourism industry badly as tourists are cancelling their visits to the hill-station. An appeal has also been sent out by local residents and environmentalists via social media, to stay away from visiting Shimla.
On Wednesday, taking suo moto cognizance in the matter, Himachal Pradesh High court asked the Shimla Municipal Corporation not to send water tankers to individuals, including ministers and bureaucrats. The court also ordered Shimla Municipal Corporation and state administration to not allow any water supply for car washing and building construction. In view of the water shortage, the Shimla administration has also postponed International Shimla Summer Festival, scheduled from June 1 to 5.
Meanwhile, the situation has put Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government on the back foot. Opposition Congress has given a five-day ultimatum to the government for resolving water crisis. According to reports of The Hindu, State Congress Chief Sukhwinder Singh said that if the issue was not solved within next five days then Congress would block the highways all over the State and would stage protests.
“When there is a same government at the Centre and the State and even the municipal corporation is also controlled by the BJP, why this problem is lingering on for so long,” Singh told The Hindu.
As per reports of PTI, the total availability of water from all sources in the hill- station stands at 21.75 million litres per day against a requirement of 32-35 million litres per day. The state authorities have cited scanty rains and less snowfall responsible for the water shortage.