Daily water supply seems to be a luxury in the historic city of Shimla. And ‘rationing’ an integral part of the civic body’s potable water distribution system.
This is so when Shimla, the capital of Himachal Pradesh and international tourist destination, is competing for inclusion in the smart city project at national level.
Much to their chagrin, the people in Shimla have been getting water on an alternative day or after two days all through the year. The Shimla Municipal Corporation has different excuses in different seasons for this crisis, although.
The locals, who saw water supply scrapped for more than a week in heavy snow in January this year for frozen pipes (forcing them to melt wayside snow for daily requirements) are worried about ensuing summers.
“We are sure that in summers, the MC will say the water sources have dried,” said some anguished residents.
“In Monsoons, silt will choke the pumps at water supply schemes,” they hastened to add.
Shimla has a population of over 1.70 lakh and around 50,000 households. The city has few public hand pumps in some outer areas, which don't serve the purpose much.
While poor vision of successive governments, who failed to channelise additional water sources in tune with the growing population over the years, is one major reason for the persistent water shortage in Shimla.
The mismanagement in operations of pumping and distribution of water along with inefficient and unsafe handling of water sources aggravates the crisis even more.
A drinking water supply scheme at Ashwani khad had to be stopped on January 1, 2016, following worst ever jaundice outbreak in Shimla, which claimed over 20 lives, when sewage from a Sewerage Treatment Plant (STP) flowed into the water supply scheme unchecked.
The scheme, which used to cater to one third of the city, is still closed as the catchment area is contaminated, officials said.
“Shimla city requires 42 mn litres of water per day, but is getting only 34-35 mn litres per day on an average. The supply from Ashwani khad is closed and Shimla MC is in the process of replacing 2,000 metres long pipes from the Giri drinking water scheme. The pumps for lifting water at Gumma scheme are also being repaired," explained Irrigation and Public Health minister, Vidya Stokes in a written reply in state assembly recently.
Stokes said when all these works would be accomplished, water supply will add up by 5-6 mn litres per day. She talked about long terms plans on water schemes as well.
The locals are, however, not hopeful and BJP MLA from Shimla, Suresh Bhardwaj echoes their feeling.
“It is continuous mismanagement. The government has failed to ensure adequate and safe water in the state capital,” Bhardwaj said.