The Himachal Pradesh High Court has directed the Chief Secretary to take adequate steps to ensure smooth supply of safe and healthy drinking water to every citizen of the state.

The court asked him to file a personal affidavit indicating the steps taken or are proposed to be taken to provide safe and healthy drinking water to the residents.

A division bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Sandeep Sharma gave these orders, while disposing a matter pertaining to scarcity of water, brought to the notice of High Court through a letter sent by some residents of Seri village in Rohroo Tehsil of Shimla district.

The court had treated it as a Public Interest Litigation.

The villagers had complained in the letter that drinking water being provided by the Irrigation and Public Health Department of State to village Seri (Batara) is not safe for drinking, as a result of which a number of people residing in the village have fallen ill.

The letter said at present water is being brought to the village through pipes from a source ‘Jalakhar’ and is being directly supplied to residents through pipes without any filters. The authorities have neither constructed tank nor fitted filters at the main source.

Superintending Engineer, (IPH Circle, Rohru) in his affidavit of September 13, 2017 had stated that the Department had provided water supply to village Seri in the year 1999. The water supply scheme to left out hamlets of census village Seri has been proposed from Ban

Bhave spring source near village Seri and intake chamber was constructed.

However, due to heavy rain, the same got damaged and as a result, loose soil and debris entered the intake chamber. He further stated that since water supply scheme is tapped from a spring source, there is no need of filtration tank being underground source and filter bed is provided only in surface source like ‘nallah’ and ‘khad’.

The bench observed that it appears that in pursuance of cognizance taken by this Court in the instant letter petition, chambers, allegedly got damaged due to heavy rain, has been repaired/constructed, as is evident from Annexure.

It is pertinent to mention that safe drinking water has been an issue in HP as more than 20 people had died in Shimla in the wake of jaundice outbreak in 2015-16, which occurred due to sewage mixed water supply to parts of Shimla from Ashwanikhad water supply scheme.