Shimla : Rekha Devi in Mandhol village draws buckets of cold water from a well on the outskirts of her snow covered village in Shimla district , 90 km from the state capital of Himachal Pradesh . She walks 2 km daily in deep snow to fetch water for her family.The government water supply to her village has collapsed for the last two weeks .To quench the thirst of her cattle she melts snow on alternative days due to fuel shortage.
The drinking water lift scheme of her village has stopped working as electricity has still not been restored since the snowfall two weeks ago . After dusk her hamlet plunges into complete darkness. Her links to the outside world are completely snapped . Telephones and roads are cut off .
Entire villages in this region are nowadays deprived of all the services a person in the civilised world is entitled to in a democratic country.
No doctor, no medicines , no LPG fuel supply,no provisions supply,no drinking water ,no electricity,no road for the last two weeks. One shudders talking of living in such wretched conditions . It is very difficult to imagine such a life in 2012 where the Himachal government does not tire singing the song of winning 51 awards for its achievements .
Most of the people in villages of Rohru, Jubbal ,Kotkhai, Chopal and Rampur tehsils of Shimla district are remembering the old pre-independence days of severe deprivations.
â€œThese days we are living the life of a primitive society deprived of all basic services like water, gas, health, roads, electricity, telephones , milk , grains , vegetables and other food items.We are wasting 2 to 3 hour fetching water and harvesting snow.We have to retire to bed by 7 P.M. hurriedly after dusk. There is no fuel wood partly because of ban on green felling and partly due to modern way of living depending largely on the services to be provided by the government or market. We are reliving in the old world of our grand parents of early 20 th century. All the faculties of the state government are like a patient in deep coma blaming each other for the failure of the basic services or issuing false statements from Shimla that all is well in the snow covered region,â€ says a frustrated Rekha Devi .
As the temperatures drop to sub-zero levels, so do the faculties of the state government . â€œPeople in this snow covered region are living in miserable conditions. But the basic services delivering departments of state government are all frozen. As the temperature falls sub-zero level creating freezing conditions, so does the departments of the state government all becoming frozen and unfeeling,â€ says V.P.Baltu , of Ghunsa Village in Jubbal Tehsil.
The chief minister of the state ,Prem Kumar Dhumal called snowfall a natural calamity of nature which is beyond human control . During his Dharamsala sojourn he said, â€œThe natural calamities are beyond the reach of human beings but we are trying to facilitate the people at our own level. People should also help each other in such circumstances. We just repaired the roads in December but due to heavy snow in January the roads are again in a bad condition but we are trying to normalize the situation.â€
In 21 st century science and technology has clearly made both man and machine highly advanced. Democracy and good governance is tested when natureâ€™s cruelties are tamed especially when the state is empowered by advanced resources. â€œ People help each other in a cruel winter, but the government either goes into comfort zone or transfers blames on nature.If government has a will , basic services could be restored in 3 to 4 days,â€ says Gopal Chauhan, a local Congress leader .
In Himachal Pradesh the government has an army of 2.75 lakhs employees to serve about 70 lakhs people. Here the ratio of government employees is the highest in the world. The state government spends half its budget on their salaries and pensions . But one or two snowfalls can send the government faculties into paralysis questioning the very existence of the state government .