The Himachal Pradesh High Court has issued some stern directions this week in a bid to tackle effectively the acute water shortage being faced my residents in Shimla.
Having taken suo motu cognizance of the water crisis in the city, the Bench comprising Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice A.M. Goel on Wednesday directed Commissioner of Shimla Municipal Corporation to disconnect water supply to hotels which have defaulted in clearing their dues.
It ordered, "We direct the Commissioner, Municipal Corporation Shimla to immediately take steps for disconnection of water connections of such of those hoteliers, who have not yet cleared their Municipal dues."
It however clarified that hoteliers who agree to deposit the due amount within two days would be exempted from the disconnection till then.
During the hearing on Wednesday, the Court was informed that within the Municipal limits of Shimla town, there were 224 hotels which had more than 527 water connections allotted to them.
Amicus Curiae Advocate Anshul Attri had then pointed out that this needs to be physically verified, as the general impression among the public was that water connections to a few hotels had been provided illegally.
To this, Mr. PP Ranta, the Member Secretary of the State Legal Services Authority assured the Court that a fresh team of para-legal volunteers would be constituted to verify this independently. Accepting the submission, the Court directed the exercise to be completed within one week.
The Court further allowed impleadment of Director (Tourism), Government of Himachal Pradesh, on Mr. Attri's submission that he would be able to assist the court on the issue of a large number of houses in Shimla operating as home stays.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Court had observed that the situation of crisis required "nothing but effective management and immediate redressal at the ground level so that residents receive bare minimum quantity of potable drinking water."
Besides, on being informed that Shimla Municipal area has now been divided into three zones, and each zone is to receive water after a gap of two days, it had opined that this "would ensure equitable distribution till such time normalcy returns".
The Court had then issued following additional directions to be followed by the authorities: