Shimla water woes: Protests continue to rock Himachal Pradesh capital

Protests continue to rock the Himachal Pradesh capital on Saturday, as the densely populated Kusumpti area continue to reel under acute portable water shortage for the 14th day. Although no incident of violence was reported in the city, police said. Hundreds of residents blocked the road leading to the state secretariat, raising slogans against the government and the Shimla Municipal Corporation, both ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party. Despite instructions by the High Court on supplying water in the city on a rotational basis, there is no water supply in this locality. The piped water was not supplied for the past eight days. Three days ago I got just three buckets of water for a family of five from a government tanker, housewife Sanjana Jindal told IANS. Residents were out on the streets protesting even late on Friday. We are depending on bottled water for cooking and drinking. There is no water to clean utensils and wash clothes. I have not taken bath for almost a week now. Our toilets are stinking literally as we are refraining from flushing them. We just managed to collect two buckets of water from rooftop when it rained in Shimla on Friday evening, college-goer Nandita Chauhan said. We are prepared to live with very little water but we need that little water to sustain our daily chores and personal hygiene, she said, adding I think the government should promote dry toilets in Shimla in order to save millions of litres of water. The problem continued to be aggravated in Pantha Ghatti, Chhota Shimla, Vikasnagar, Kangnadhar, New Shimla and Khalini localities. A government statement said the civic body received 24.50 million litres per day water on Friday and it was distributed as per the timetable. It said 1.70 lakh litre water was supplied to different localities through tankers. Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on Saturday rushed to New Delhi to brief the Prime Ministers Office on steps taken to restore water normalcy in Shimla. Officials blamed it on the rising mercury and the drying up of natural water channels. Shimla has a population of nearly 200,000 that requires 42 MLD water. Facing flak from the high court, which is monitoring the water situation on a day-to-day basis, the Municipal Corporation has started disconnecting the water connections of over 40 hotels for their failure to clear the pending arrears. Issuing a slew of directives on Friday, it said all 62 keymen, who are responsible for supplying water in localities, should be kept under surveillance to ensure equitable distribution. The court has listed the case for the next hearing on June 11. It has also made it categorically clear that no individual request even to the VIPs, including the judges, would be entertained.