One of India’s top hill stations is running out of water

One of India’s top hill stations is running out of water
People wait to collect drinking water from a tanker as the city faces acute shortage of drinking water, in Shimla on Saturday.Photo)

  • Shimla is now amongst the many hill stations that are running out of water.
  • Because of the terrain, there are places where government water tankers cannot reach leaving residents without water for 11 days.
  • Residents of Chalaunthi area have been forced to head to the local cremation ground to get water.

While most of India withers in the unbearably hot summers, its cool hills offer some much-needed respite. In fact, the term ‘hill station’ was coined by the European colonists who flocked to cooler pastures, starting a trend of ‘escaping to the hills’. This tradition was subsequently followed by city dwellers who drop everything and head to the hills to cool off. But now there is a major problem of water shortage brewing in these hill stations. Reports have indicated water shortages in various hilly areas of the country, including Mussoorie, Ooty and more.

And one that has made headlines of late is Shimla, one of the most popular hill stations in the country, which is now running dry for over eight days now.

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The primary cause for this shortage is less snowfall in the winter months (read: global warming), and less rainfall thereafter, all culminating in the drying up of many of the channels that feed water to the city.

Most parts of Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, have had no running water for almost eight days leaving citizens with no choice but to buy drinking water at inflated prices or wait in snaking queues to fill a bucket of water from government tankers. In fact, because of the terrain, there are places like Kasumpti, a suburban town in Shimla district, where these tankers cannot reach, leaving residents without water for 11 days.

Whereas, residents of Chalaunthi area have been forced to head to the local cremation ground to get water. And smaller hotels have had no choice but to cancel bookings. A lucky few have actually left Shimla and gone to other places where they have access to water.

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Needless to say, these dire circumstances led to widespread protests in the area with over hundred people staging a midnight sit-in outside the waterworks office on Sunday night and then attempting to march to the to the residence of chief minister Jai Ram Thakur. However, the police stopped the protestors before they could reach Thakur’s residence. They also registered an FIR against Congress councillor Sushma Kuthiala, her husband, and son, who were a part of the march. The protesters later blocked the arterial Chandigarh highway.

Arti Chauhan, a BJP councillor, however, believes that there is enough water and that the problem lies in distribution. “It seems only influential people and hotel owners have access to water while common people are made to suffer,” she alleged.

For now, the chief minister on Monday set up a committee headed by chief secretary Vineet Chowdhary to monitor daily water supply.
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