Acute water shortage in Shimla for 8th consecutive day; hotels cancel bookings

Shimla: During peak tourist season in Shimla, the taps are running dry in the most parts of the city for the eighth consecutive day amidst acute water crisis.

The crisis has forced people to buy water at sky-high prices and smaller hotels to cancel bookings . The water supply has plummeted to less than 50% of their requirement owing to the dry winter.

About 100 people staged midnight protest outside the waterworks office on the main Mall Road on Sunday and the police restricted them from approaching Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur’s residence, who on Monday constituted a committee headed by chief secretary Vineet Chowdhary to monitor daily water supply.

On Monday, the Himachal high court took cognisance of the issue after the local bar association stopped work citing water problem.

The court has summoned municipal commissioner Rohit Jamwal and other municipal officials to appear in person on Tuesday to explain the reasons for the acute water shortage.

The Himachal Bar Association president, Brij Mohan Chauhan, has said that this kind of water shortage is the first in the past 20 years and the government has failed to provide even drinking water to people.

Jamwal has said that the crisis situation is unusual in the city but he admitted that such shortage was in the making for quite some time.

He added that over the past three summers, water availability had plunged to 29 or 30 million litres per day (MLD).

“This year we are able to supply only about 20 MLD. That makes it tough to match demand,” Jamwal said.

The water demand in Shimla during peak tourist season is around 45 MLD.

The water crunch has forced locals to spend many hours in queues to get a bucket of water from private water suppliers at double the normal rates. Several areas haven’t received water for the past week and places like Kasumpti haven’t had water supply for 11 days. Kusumpati is inaccessible as even tankers cannot supply water to these areas.

The water shortage has hit hotels hard. “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 but the supply is not enough to meet demand. “I cancelled my booking in Shimla after a local hotelier told me that he could not assure adequate water,” said Noida resident Raman Singh.

As per TOI, India could be importing water as availability per person would dwindle down to 22% of the present scenario.

India is staring at severe water crisis. Between 1951 and 2011, water availability per person dropped 70%. By 2050, it is expected to reduce to just 22% of the present availability.

Depleting groundwater is a major cause of water shortage. India is the world’s largest user of groundwater, accounting for 25 percent of the world’s extracted groundwater. Over-exploitation has resulted in the decline in groundwater levels. In some parts of the country, the decline is more than one meter per year.