In the face of ongoing water crisis in North India’s most visited hill station for the past nine days, the Himachal Pradesh High Court on Tuesday put strong restrictions on the Shimla Municipal Corporation against any preferential treatment to VIPs such as judges (including Acting Chief Justice), ministers, MLAs, bureaucrats and police officers with regards to drinking water supply.
“Save and except under extreme emergent situation(s), no water through tankers shall be supplied by the MC, Shimla to any individual, more so in the VIP areas, be it the judges (including Acting CJ), ministers, MLAs, bureaucrats, police officers and commercial establishments,” a bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Ajay Mohan Goel ordered today. Also Read: Why Shimla is thirsty this tourist season
The bench, however, said such restrictions will not apply to residences/offices of Governor and Chief Minister of the state.
Shimla has witnessed extraordinary scenes this past week due to water crisis even as frustrated residents tried to march towards the residence of Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on Sunday night, who described the crisis as “really, really bad”. Also Read: Vikramaditya gives three-day ultimatum to Shimla MC
In view of the crisis, the court also imposed a ban on construction activity for at least one week and told a committee under Deputy Commissioner or Commissioner Municipal Corporation to keep a check on such constructions.
The order was passed on a PIL taken up by the court in its suo motu action after media reports on the severe water crisis in Shimla. Also Read: Midnight protests, dharnas, boycotts as Shimla’s water woes turn grim
The court, on Monday, had given a 24-hour deadline to the Shimla Municipal Corporation and the state government to apprise them on the gravity of the situation and steps taken to deal with it.
When the case came up for hearing, Advocate General Ashok Sharma informed the court that Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur was personally monitoring the situation and a committee under Chief secretary has already been set up to deal with the situation.
The high court expressed satisfaction over the government’s response but asked the Commissioner of Municipal Corporation to file an affidavit by Wednesday informing about improvement in the situation after taking adequate steps.
The court also banned car washing in Shimla town during the week and asked the Chief Secretary to approach the Army authorities for diverting the water used to water the Golf course at Annadale and also the Indian Institute of Advance Studies (IIAS) to help in making water available from its huge water storage tank for local needs in Shimla.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Commissioner of Shimla Amit Kashyap has decided to postpone Shimla summer festival – an annual cultural event for the tourists and locals – due to the acute water crisis in the town.