Summer Woes – Dharamshala Faces Its Worst Drinking Water Crisis

As summer temperatures rise in Himachal State, the state has begun to face water shortages both for drinking and everyday usage.

Chief minister Jai Ram Thakur only recently reiterated, “top priority has been accorded to irrigation and water supply schemes in Himachal Pradesh and Rs 2,572 crore has been earmarked in the state budget for early completion of these schemes.”

Leaving apart other cities, take the case of Dharamshala, a district head quarter since 1845. The water here was supplied during from the English rule from natural springs of Bhagsunath, and till 1960 the entire city was getting 24 hours water.

After the refugee Tibetans were settled here, from the late 1950’s onwards, the government arranged water supply from Gaj Khad (which is the source of glacial waters in the Dhauladhar ranges), for the lower areas and even till 2005-06 the city was being supplied with sufficient drinking water. And as the population increased many folds, the authorities augmented the supply with  many new drinking water schemes but has never proved enough.

Dharamshala, McLeod Ganj toilets closed because of water shortages

A mega project  was sanctioned for Dharamshala after the city was declared a municipal corporation, a couple of years back with a promise to provide 24 hours water supply to its residents. The scheme was of given to a private contractor’

Talking about this mega scheme on 18th May the chief minister said, “Mega project Rs 2,100 crore for Dharamshala town would give it a facelift and provide world standard basic amenities to the residents of the town as well as tourists visiting the place.” He said it while reviewing the progress on Smart City Project Dharamshala, and said that augmentation and automation at source and plant for water supply schemes had been completed by spending Rs. 29.73 crore. But Dharamshala is facing its worst water crises.

Harsh Bala of ward 1, Devender, Anil Dogra and CC Pathania of ward 6, Lalit Awasthi- Maya Devi of ward 5, Sureshtna Devi of ward 7, Rahul Sachdeva, Naresh Sharma and Neeraj Gupta who are tourists visiting the hill station lament that it was becoming difficult to get even fresh food prepared, leave a side the toiletries.

Many of the Sulbh Sochalyas (Public toilets) in the city have been shut down due to this water crisis. Hoteliers are worse hit as it is peak tourist season.

Vishal Bakshi, IPH official said that there is short supply from the sources and the department is not getting enough water at the moment. “It will improve soon,” said Bakshi.

Arvind Sharma is an award winning bi-lingual journalist with more than 20 years of experience. He has worked with Divya Himachal, Dainik Jagran, Dainik Bhasker, Vir Partap, Ajit and PTI. In 2010, he was conferred the Himachal Kesri journalism award. He reports on the Tibetan Government in Exile, politics, sports, tourism and other topics. He lives in Dharamshala.

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