Shimla Battles Water Crisis: People take out midnight protest march

SHIMLA: The tourist town of Shimla is reeling under severe water crisis. More than half a dozen districts and Himachal Pradesh’s capital Shimla are facing water problem. Areas facing the worst crisis are Kasumpati, Chhota Shimla, Vikasnagar, Patyog, Kangna Dhar, New Shimla and Panthaghati.  Residents are complaining of taps going dry for the seventh consecutive day. The town’s busy Mall road, which is normally buzzing with tourists’ activity at weekends, saw long queues of men, women, and children rushing to fill-up water at the arrival of water tankers.

The situation has reached a point where the Himachal Pradesh High Court hauled up the municipal commissioner and the chief engineer and questioned what steps are being taken to immediately tackle the crisis. A bench headed by acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Ajay Mohan Goel said, “The problem of water scarcity within Shimla town takes us to yet another issue of whether any new construction should be allowed to come up within the municipal limits of Shimla town or not.”

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said he held a couple of review meetings and his government is tackling the situation. Local residents of Shimla have been active on Twitter, asking tourists to stay away. Hoteliers in Shimla have admitted there have been cancellations at the peak of the tourist season. The state government has divided the city into three zones for equitable distribution of water. The government said at least one tanker will be made available in each ward of Shimla

Angry residents allege water is being diverted mostly to the VIP areas and big hotels Locals protested, raised slogans late last night in front of the Chief Minister’s residence. Clashes with police have also been reported. Protesting residents also blocked the Shimla-Kalka road

Due to deficient precipitation during winter, the major water sources have either gone fully or partially dry and despite a number of small and big rivers flowing through the State, successive governments have done nothing to lift water from these perennial sources.

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