Summers are here but the locals and tourists can heave a sigh of relief as the worst water scenario of 2018 in Shimla may not repeat.
The weather Gods were kind in winters, with intermittent snow and rain in the hills of Himachal recharging water sources. Learning lessons, the state government, which was caught unawares in May 2018 over acute water shortage more due to mismanagement, too has taken up the issue seriously and put in efforts to streamline things.
For past many months, except for some days in between, the Shimla Jal Prabandhan Nigam Limited (SJPNL), which is responsible for water supply in Shimla, has been able to provide water daily to the locals.
Shimla is receiving 50 MLD water from different sources on an average this summer, which is the highest in the history of Shimla. Otherwise earlier, against the requirement of 56 MLD water for Shimla city with a population of over 1.70 lakh, the maximum availability was 40-42 MLD.
As per records, the water availability for Shimla in April month this year was the highest over last five years at 49.96 MLD. The water received from different sources for Shimla in the corresponding month in 2018 was 33.46 MLD.
In May 2018, the water availability for Shimla city had dipped to 28 MLD, creating a crisis. So much so that people did not get water supply even after 8-9 days gap. The situation had turned worst towards end of May which is a peak tourist season, that the government had to issue an advisory to the tourists, urging them not to visit Shimla, the international tourist destination, in those days. The hotels and restaurants had closed their toilets for want of water, and the public toilets too were shut.
For the first time, the Chief Minister had to personally sit and monitor the water availability and supply on day to day basis and tankers had to be guarded by cops to avoid clashes for water. The reasons then cited were less water availability due to drying up of sources, constant leakage of water from pipes and faulty distribution.
“The situation is far better this year, going by the water availability in the streams as of late, clubbed with other measures taken to plug leaking pipes and improve pumping operations,” Managing Director of SJPNL, Dharmender Gill told The Statesman.
Gill said, right now there is no plan for rationing of water – from daily to alternative day—but the water sources do show a drop by May-June. “If this happens, we may have to consider rationing. As of late, the situation is good,” he said.
What may ease water availability in coming days will be additional lifting of 10 MLD water from Satluj river at Chabba. According to SJPNL officials, the pumping station and water treatment plant at Chabba has been erected, and a 17 kms pipe line from Chabba to Gumma has been laid- which will fill the gap when 21 MLD Gumma scheme faces water shortage.
SJPNL is company promoted by Shimla Municipal Corporation and the state government, which takes care of all the operations related to safe drinking water supply in Shimla. It started functioning in June, 2018.
Earlier, the Irrigation and Public Health department used to provide water to Shimla MC for distribution in city, which involved lot of problems, including health issues.