Delayed monsoon adds to Shimla’s water woes

Shimla: A dithering monsoon on the forecast and high summer temperatures keep tourists inflows at a peak, which has stretched the hill stations water supply to a limit and forced the municipal authorities to curtail every day supply.

“Falling levels at the water sources has put a strain on the supply situation,” says Mukesh Hira, municipal engineer.

“Schedules stand changed and instead of everyday supply, water from Tuesday onwards is being supplied on alternate day basis,” he said.

Against a requirement of 40 million litres daily (MLD) for providing water every day, the municipal corporation is only receiving about 29 MLD forcing the change in distribution schedules.

Caught up in the distress condition are residents and tourists. “The children had to leave without their morning bath as water supply only got to us in the afternoon and that too after two days,” said Seema Kashyap, a housewife.

Mukesh Chibber, a summer resident feeling the pinch of no water for the day said, “In Delhi it is the heat that you want to run away from and here one has a hard time to live with dry taps.”

“The demand for bottled water has been enormous this summer,” said Rakesh Sood, a grocer.

As the rains get more delayed, tourists and summer residents prolong their stay in cooler climes. Local meteorological forecasts project the monsoon to take a week more to get here.

For a hill city that is fast eating into its green cover for meeting expanding urban needs, by merging periphery townships into the municipal corporation has increased the total resident population to over 2.25 lakh people. A floating population of about 80,000 additional people only stretches civic amenities to break point.

“For a tourist destination with 35,000 bed capacity,” says Surinder Justa, district tourism officer, “we have about 45,000 tourists in the city at any given point of time these days.”

“Other than that there are about another 35,000 summer residents, who don’t figure on our booking lists because they own their own homes,” he said.

“We are hard pressed to meet the extra water requirements,” says Mukesh Hira, “and have pressed water tankers to feed localities where there is a pressure problem. Onset of the pre-monsoon showers would help to ease the situation, he says.

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