As queen of hills, Shimla, reels under a severe water shortage, the Himachal Pradesh High Court has now stepped in for the Aam Aadmi. Taking cognisance of the acute water crisis in the capital, the High Court has directed the Municipal Corporation that no supply of water should be done through tankers. However, the axe has not only fallen on the common man but mostly on the VIPs in the hill town. The court has ordered that the water supply via tankers must not be done in high-profile areas that house judges, bureaucrats, MLAs, ministers, police officers. However, the court clarified that the order will not include residences and offices of the Governor and Chief Minister.
According to reports, the Court has directed the Chief Secretary to immediately approach the Army authorities for diversion of water from the Annadale golf course and the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, which has huge water storage tanks, to alleviate the prevailing situation. Amid the grave situation in the city, Himachal Pradesh High Court on Monday took suo motu notice of the crisis and has asked whether any new construction should be allowed to come up within the municipal limits.
Himachal Pradesh High Court also ordered a halt to construction activity and banned car washing for a week in core areas of the parched state capital to save water. Residents say that the government should issue an advisory to tourists asking them not to come to Shimla till the situation improves as it would cause further inconvenience to water-starved residents. The social media messages have alarmed hoteliers. But some of them are so fed up with complaints from the customers that they have offered a full refund of the advance payment if they choose to cancel.
The population of Shimla Municipal Corporation area is about 1.72 lakh but it swells by between 90,000 and one lakh during the peak tourist season in summer. The requirement of water increases to 45 million litres a day (MLD) during this season. The availability of water touched a new low of 18 to 27 MLD this season due to scanty rain and snowfall during the winters and drying up of the perennial water sources.The Ashwani Khad water supply scheme was closed after an outbreak of jaundice due to contaminated water in 2015, adding to the problem.