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In parched Shimla, residents stage midnight protest

The protesters accused the municipal corporation (MC) of discriminatory treatment, saying water was not being distributed in specific localities.

india Updated: May 28, 2018 23:04 IST
Gaurav Bisht
Gaurav Bisht
Hindustan Times, SHIMLA
Shimla,water crisis,water scarcity
People protest water crisis at Shimla railway station on Monday. (HT Photo)

Shimla As taps ran dry for the eighth day running in some parts of Shimla, which is facing unusually high temperatures and a heavy tourist rush in the holiday season, residents of the Lower Bazaar area finally lost patience. About 100 people staged a midnight sit-in protest outside the waterworks office on the main Mall Road. The police managed to stop them only when they were heading for chief minister Jai Ram Thakur’s residence.

The protesters accused the municipal corporation (MC) of discriminatory treatment, saying water was not being distributed in specific localities. Reaching the main water control room at about 12 midnight they raised slogans against the MC authorities before heading for the CM’s official residence located close by.

As policemen arrived on the scene and prevented them from marching onwards, the crowds were involved in scuffles with them near the Marina Hotel. A case was later registered against former Congress councillor Sanjeev Kuthiala and his wife Sushma, a sitting councillor, for obstructing a government official from discharging his duties.

“There is no water in the area for the last one week. The residents were told that supply would be restored on Sunday but nothing happened. The people are agitated about the (government) inaction. Most of the traders kept waiting for water the entire say,” said Sushma.

She also alleged that the policemen manhandled the women protesters.

The Communist Party of India Marxist also staged a protest on Monday outside the deputy commissioner’s office.

Shimla gets its water from three main perennial sources. Gumma, the main source, draws water from the Shimla catchment sanctuary which is spread over 10.25 sq km and fed by nine streams. The British built a large water storage tank for supply to the main town. Other sources are Chairh, Giri and Churat.

Supply from Ashwani Khad, another source, was suspended two years ago after sewage contamination led to a jaundice outbreak that claimed 34 lives and affected hundreds of locals.

Against its daily requirement of 45 million litres per day (MLD) the Capital of Himachal Pradesh is just getting 20 MLD water, as sources are drying up rapidly in the summer.

Many localities in the town have been without water for eight days, with some areas in Kasumpti not getting supply for the last 11 days. “Some areas are inaccessible, my tankers cannot supply water there,” says Narender Thakur, former councillor

The water shortage has hit the hospitality industry too in the peak tourist season. “Many bookings have been cancelled in the last two to three days. When the government cannot provide water then it should stop promoting Shimla as tourist destination,” says Suresh Dogra, a travel agent on the Mall Road.

A majority of hoteliers in Shimla have engaged private tankers to make up for the shortage.

The government has pressed into service as many as 34 weater tankers to meet the water requirements of the people


Sales of disposable glasses, plates, and packaged water peak

Sales of disposable glasses, plates and packaged water have peaked in the Himachal Pradesh Capital. “We prefer using disposable plates to conserve water,” says Ishana Singh, a resident of Chotta Shimla.

A shopkeeper in Lakkar Bazaar, Mansoor, who uses just one name, says “Earlier I used to sell about 100 bottles of water per day and now I supply about 1000 bottles per day.”

First Published: May 28, 2018 23:03 IST