Jakhoo hill restaurant poses danger to city water supply

Shimla: Threatened with damage to Shimla water supply system, municipal authorities are to have a relook at construction of a eatery on Jakhoo Hill that has come up close to a storage tank.

Councillor Manoj Kuthiala who raised the issue in a municipal house meet on Saturday said, ‘nobody is paying heed to the restaurant coming at Jakhoo top as it is dangerously close to a storage tank which supplies water to much of the town.”

The restaurant is part of a ropeway project being constructed by a private developer. The eatery has come up at the landing site of the ropeway.

Independent sources claimed that because of the construction the storage tanks had developed cracks. Mayor Narinder Kataria, however, denied any knowledge about damages having occurred.

“We have asked the chief architect planner to report as to how constructions plans for the site were approved in the core green belt area,” said Kataria.

Municipal corporation intends to cancel any plans of starting a restaurant close to the storage tank, he said.”

“If at all a restaurant has been approved, an alternate site would be looked at but in no way would a restaurant be allowed near a storage tank that could inadvertently pollute the water supply system,” he added.

Local MLA, Suresh Bhardwaj who did attend the municipal house meeting said that authorities had been asked to provide all information about sanctions and any illegal constructions that have taken place on the project.

The tank is part of the pumped water supply system set up by the British and meets the needs of residents living in higher zones of the hill station.

Construction in the green belt area is prohibited but to lay a ropeway, tourism department were allowed by the Himachal High Court to cut 31 deodar trees and build structures on the hill. To minimize damage, height of the ropeway was raised over the tree line and an 11 storey base station was approved by the town planners.

The project ran into controversy when chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal instituted an inquiry to find out how instead of the project promoter paying lease money, the government ended up footing the amount for its own project.

The municipal corporation, over a decade ago, proposed a ropeway to Shimla’s highest point. The government, in 2003, decided to get it done by the tourism department. In turn, the department outsourced it as a commercial venture on a build, operate and transfer basis.

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