Faced with the scarcity of drinking water for the seventh consecutive day, residents of several parched localities of Shimla on Sunday threatened to put locks at the local Municipal Corporation (MC) as private tankers failed to fulfill the requirement.
The town’s busy Mall road, which is normally buzzing with tourists’ activity at weekends, saw long queues of men, women and children rushing to fill-up water at the arrival of water tankers.
Inder Singh, a Congress councillor, who was also standing in the queue to get drinking water, alleged that the municipal wards represented by the Congress, were being selectively targeted. “There is no drop of water for past six days. Despite being a Sunday, people spent hours in fetching water. I will tender my resignation in protest if the situation doesn’t change” he said.
In Sanjauli, the residents were forced to fetch water from local cremation ground on the bypass road. The Boilioe ganj area went without water on the seventh day.
Local hospitals, both government and private, schools, hostels, including girls hostels of the schools, colleges and university such as Portmore, RKMV and Himachal Pradesh university and offices faced the water crisis. Several places have started emitting foul smell.
The water crisis has also forced some residents to leave Shimla, while the hoteliers also had to witness cancellation of bookings in on-going the tourist season. Over 35 localities were badly affected by the water scarcity and non-availability of drinking water. This is supposedly the worst ever crisis in the Shimla’s recent history .
The availability of water from all the sources has fallen to 22 million litres per day (MLD) against the normal availability of 42 MLDs. This is largely attributed to low water discharge in the sources due to dry spell in the region.
“It’s an unusual situation if you look at past three years data. The water availability during summer plumed to 29 or 30 MLDs during 2015, 2016 and 2017. This year we are between 22 MLD or 23 MLDs. That makes it tough to match the demand,” said Rohit Jamwal, Commissioner SMC .
To tide over the situation, Jamwal has written to Deputy Commissioner Amit Kashyap to deploy 20 mobile water tankers of high capacity to supply water to areas facing the scarcity. Some localities are facing low pressure, while others are going without scheduled supplies. Currently, the SMC has deployed eight tankers to aid the scarcity-hit regions.
Officials in the Municipal Coporation claim over 4 MLD of water goes waste as the water distribution system is very old and there is leakage from the pipes. The villagers in upstream areas have also diverted the water for irrigation, causing shortage at the feeding sources of water supply schemes. “There is mismanagement of water in the town also” he revealed .
Rakesh Chauhan, a resident of Summerhill areas said, “There has been no water for four days. My family has not been able to cook. All household jobs like washing and bathing remain affected. The toilets have started stinking and could lead to outbreak of disease due to unhygienic conditions.”
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur admitted that there was a crisis of drinking water. “It’s because the feed sources/ rivers/ streams have gone dry. I have held two three review meetings. The situation is being handled. The areas where the supply is not reaching are being fed by tankers .There is no cause of panic as we are alive to the situation.”
The water crisis in has also assumed political overtunes with CPM’s former mayor Sanjay Chauhan raising demand for dismissal of the Municipal Corporation officials, as the incumbent team of the BJP has not been able to address basic demand of the citizens.
Chauhan claimed that even during his term as the mayor of Shimla, the availability of water was barely 22 to 23 MLDs, yet the situation was manageable with strict rationing. It’s wrong to say that the situation was unsual as far as availability was concerend. He further demanded registration of an FIR against the Municipal Coporation for supplying sewage mix water in Kanlog area.
The Congress councilors today gheraoed deputy mayor Rakesh Sharma over the water crisis and demanded the resignation of both Mayor Kusum Sadret and the deputy mayor .
The water crisis has hit the hotel industry hard as many claimed that they are getting the calls for cancellations. The hoteliers maintain that foot fall was down by 50 percent despite it being weekend. The hotels have put-up notices at their receptions advising the tourists to use minimum water .