Shimla Water Crisis: Disconnect Water Supply To Hotels With Pending Dues; No Water Tankers Even To VIPs: Himachal Pradesh HC [Read Order]
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:
- Save and except under extreme emergent situation(s), no water through water tanker(s) shall be supplied by the Municipal Corporation, Shimla to any individual, more so in a VIP area, be it the Judges (including the Acting Chief Justice), Ministers, MLA’s Bureaucrats, Police Officers and commercial establishments. We clarify that this order would not include the residences/offices of His Excellency the Governor and Hon’ble the Chief Minister, State of Himachal Pradesh;
- All construction activity within Shimla planning area shall forthwith remain suspended for at least one week, whereafter, depending upon the prevalent situation, Committee so constituted, the Deputy Commissioner, Shimla/ Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Shimla/any other committee which may be constituted subsequently to monitor the same shall take an appropriate decision with regard thereto;
- An endeavor shall be made by the Chief Secretary, Government of Himachal Pradesh/Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Shimla, to immediately approach the Army Authorities for diverting the water used for watering the Golf Course at Annadale, situated within the Municipal limits of Shimla town as also the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, which has got huge water storage tanks, to meet emergent situation of lack of supply of potable drinking water within the Municipal limits of Shimla town. We are hopeful that the said Authority(s) shall be considerate in responding to such request in this hour of crises which the city is passing through;
- All car washing operations within the Municipal limits of Shimla town shall remain suspended for a period of one week or till such time the situation acquires normalcy, which decision shall be taken by the Committee constituted by the State or the Commissioner Municipal Corporation;
- We direct the District Judge, Shimla, who is the Chairperson of the District Legal Services Authority to immediately depute four Para Legal Volunteers at each of the control rooms set up by the Municipal Corporation, Shimla. These volunteers shall, by rotation, sit in the control rooms and help the officials man the same; and
- A special endeavor be undertaken for sensitizing the residents of the need of saving water and utilizing it with discretion.
Read the Order Here