Given the prolonged dry spell and the depletion of supplies from perennial sources, the state capital, Shimla, is facing a severe tidal water crisis during which authorities have decided to start rationing water. Shimla Jal Prabandhan Nigam Limited (SJPNL) will supply water to different locations in the city on alternate days during the peak tourist season.
Also Read: Punjab Government to Run Volvo Buses from Delhi Airport to State from June 15
“We have resorted to water rationing due to the dwindling supply from springs,” said SJPNL’s additional chief executive, Anil Jaiswal, adding, “So far from forecast, it seems that rationing of the water won’t last long. There is a pre-monsoon forecast in the next few days.
The city of Shimla draws 36 million liters of water per day against a capacity of 55 to 60 million liters. This is not the first time that the state capital has been affected by such a crisis. In 2018, city residents took to the streets as the taps went dry for nearly 10 days.
This time, Himachal Pradesh received 94% rainfall deficit in April and March, while the rainfall deficit in May was 23% despite the eight wet spells. The state recorded the highest rainfall deficit of 79% in May 2012, while the deficit was 23% in 2011 and 2022.
Water sources and infrastructure
Shimla gets its water from six main water sources namely Gumma, Giri, Seogh, Churat, Chairh and Koti Brandi. Due to the rare rains, the water level has dropped by up to 50% in the Giri River. Of the four pumps installed to raise water from the Giri, only two are functional.
At present, only 12 MLD of water is drawn from Giri, while the water has dried up to 70% in Koti Brandi. Of the total installed capacity of 5 MLD, the SJPNL draws only 0.77 MLD of water.
Emergency plan and water policy
There are many neighborhoods in Shimla, especially outlying areas that have water after four days and in some places after a week.
“The city’s water supply has diminished, but we continue to ask SJPNL to maintain the supply. We have asked Nigam to prepare a contingency plan in case it doesn’t rain soon,” City Commissioner Ashish Kohli said.
SJPNL chief executive RK Verma called an emergency staff meeting, ordering them to ensure an adequate water supply every other day. “Over the years, the government has done nothing but make high demands. The reality on the ground is different. Shimla is heading towards water crisis, there is distribution problem, many neighborhoods are getting water after a week and that too only for a few hours a day,” ex-Mayor Sanjay Chauhan says.
Congress has threatened an agitation against water woes in Shimla. “If the water problem is not resolved, we will be forced to go to the gherao, the office of the municipal corporation,” said Congress Secretary General Yashwant Chajta.
Water rationing is causing panic among hoteliers
Water rationing has come as a shock to hoteliers in Shimla. These days, the city is experiencing a high influx of tourists. Water demand doubles in the city as tourists rush to Shimla from neighboring states for the weekend. Hotel occupancy in Shimla has increased to 70%.
The president of the HP Tourism Stake Holders Association said: Purchasing water by tankers is expensive, but all hotels provide adequate supplies to guests.