03 March, 2021

Shimla Beats The Thirst

Himachal Pradesh has set up a ­dedicated utility, Shimla Jal Prabandhan Nigam, to deal with water supply and sewerage services, which was ­earlier handled by different agencies and departments.

Drops Of Life
A water tanker in Shimla
Photograph by Getty Images
Shimla Beats The Thirst

In 1817, a Himalayan ­explorer, Captain Alexander Gerard, came across a small village, Shimla, at the foothills of the Himalayas. Within 50 years, it became the ­summer capital of British India. Today, Shimla is spread across 5,131 sq km, 98 per cent of which is rural. The other 2 per cent is the city of Shimla. Pooja Sharma, a 32-year-old resident, has ­witnessed how the serene city became a concrete jungle with water problems. “When I was a child, two-storey houses was the norm,” she says. Now, there are multi-­storeyed buildings, and the city went through a water crisis between 2016 and 2018.

In 2016-17, jaundice due to contaminated water killed 10; the total number of those who fell ill was over 10,000. The Himachal Pradesh High Court intervened, and 10 ­people, including six officials of the irrigation and public health department and the contractor of a sewage plant, were arrested. “The ­incident jolted the government, and control of water supply, including pumping and distribution, was handed over to the Shimla Municipal...

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