Even as protests and road blockades by angry Shimla residents over the town’s incessant water crisis continued on Wednesday, the Himachal Pradesh High Court, in a fresh intervention, directed Shimla Municipal Corporation Commissioner to order disconnection of water supply to the hotels, who have defaulted in clearing dues and sought compliance of its orders by May 31. Some areas in the state capital have been without water for the past nine days.
A division bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Ajay Mohan Goel, which has been monitoring the situation, passed directions against erring ‘keymen’ of the Municipal Corporation for failing to ensure fair distribution of the water to the citizens.
The bench noted that there were 224 hotels in the town with 527 water supply connections. The court has ordered a physical verification of the ground position to remove the impression that they were drawing excess water than sanctioned limit. The court also took note of some home stays functioning around Shimla and summoned Director Tourism to submit their list. Over HPSEB’s refusal to grant a request by Municipal Corporation for diversion of water from Chaba reservoir, the court gave 24 hours to the Managing Director of HPSEB to take action or be present in the court on May 31.
Meanwhile on Wednesday, water tankers reached some parched localities and manged to quell some anger. While more than 27 tankers, which were pressed into service, supplied water to some localities on demand, a dozen localities that were slated to get piped water supply Wednesday went without it. Some residents staged a protest near Municipal Corporation’s office with empty buckets. At other places, people carrying buckets and containers were seen standing in long queues to fetch water from the tankers. Police at some spots had to send extra security with the tankers to prevent ruckus from breaking out. Protests were also held at different places including Sanjauli and Kacchi Ghat where the protesters organised a chakka jam.
Congress councilors too carried out a protest march and blocked traffic on Cart Road near Tallend raising slogans seeking dismissal of the Mayor and Deputy Mayor alleging that they had failed to handle the water crisis. There was ruckus at the monthly meeting of the BJP-led Shimla Municipal Corporation (MC) as Congress, BJP and CPM tried to shout down each other while raising the issue.
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, meanwhile, reviewed the supply position with a high-level team headed by Chief secretary Vineet Chawdhry and expressed satisfaction over improvements and streamlining of distribution. A major breach in the main supply pipeline at Mashbora on Tuesday night was plugged early this morning.