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Explainer: Shimla Water Crisis

The water supply has fallen to about 30 MLD this year because of less snowfall and less rainfall in April-May period

india Updated: May 28, 2018 20:25 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Shimla
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Residents fill water from a handpump at Shanan, on outskirts of the city.(Deepak Sansta /HT)

What is Shimla water crisis?

Shimla’s every day water requirement is 42 million litres per day as against the supply of 36 MLD. As per Shimla Municipal Corporation, the water supply has fallen to 22 MLD this summer primarily due to low water discharge at local sources. Normally during summers, the water supply falls to about 30 MLD but this year because of very less snowfall and less rainfall in April-May period, most of the local water sources are almost running dry.

Why the city faces problem?

Shimla’s water supply was planned by British for a maximum of 16,000 people almost 142 years ago. The water this summer is just five times of what the city got in 1875, when first water line was laid, even though the population has seen more than 10-fold increase to 1.7 lakh people. In addition to the local population, the city on average is receiving about 20,000 tourists that add to already shrunk water sources. The tanker mafia is tapping the corporation’s water sources further reducing the supply. The city’s expansion to some traditional catchment areas has resulted in reduction in natural flow of water.

From where Shimla gets water?

More than half of the Shimla’s water is lifted from Gumma, 15 kms away from the city, and Ashwini Khad, seven kms away. In 1920, A F Anderson, a British engineer, was deputed to set up two pumping stations to lift water from there to the city through an intricate system of pipes lines and meters ensuring proper water pressure to each household. As of now, there are 800 such pumping points in Guma. Water from Ashwini Khad has been substantially reduced following sewage mixing with drinking water earlier this month.

Who builds the system and how?

The town got its first piped water supply in 1875 with piped water supply of 4.5 million litres from Dhalli catchment area. The water supply was augumented in 1914 and 1924 from Gumma giving the city 12 MLD of water supply and introduction of a system where water was lifted 4,000 feet to high points in the city to ensure regular supply with proper pressure. The manual valve system used then helped to increase water supply in case of fire and any other emergency. After independence, the additional water supply has been improved by adding two more water supply sources giving city another 24 MLD.

How much water a resident gets in Shimla?

As per a recent report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), the per capital average water supplied in Shimla between 2009 and 2014 was 110 litres as against the prescribed level of 135 litres per day. This summer, it has fallen below 50 litres per capital per day with piped water being supplied once a week.

First Published: May 28, 2018 20:16 IST