Shimla Water Crisis: Make Whatsapp Group; Create Jingles On Water Conservation: Himachal Pradesh HC [Read Order]
Continuing with its crusade to do its bit in tackling effectively the acute water shortage being faced my residents in Shimla, the Himachal Pradesh High Court on Friday issued another set of directions addressing various issues being faced by the city people.
The Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Ajay Mohan Goel directed creation of a Whatsapp group for effective coordination by the municipal authorities in supplying water to various zones in the city. It also ordered that jingles be aired by the civic body, in order to sensationalize people about the importance of water conservations.
Besides, the Court ordered media to exercise restraint in reporting of the issue, so that tourists are not dissuaded from visiting the city. It ordered, "Taking into consideration the historic importance of the Town, as also the factum of Shimla being world over known as “the Queen of Hills”, which attracts tourists from the entire world, Media to exercise restraint and not sensationalize the issue so as to dissuade the tourists from visiting Shimla.
We are not even remotely suggesting that the Media should not report the facts, but what we are observing is that Media should restrain from publishing material which may be construed as a message that tourists are either not welcome in the town or that the tourists should not visit the town."
Here are all the directions issued by the Court:
Whatsapp Group for regular updates and coordination on water supply in different zones
- If not already constituted, a dedicated Whatsapp group be constituted forthwith, supervised by the Assistant Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Shimla, consisting of said officer as also Municipal Engineer, Municipal Corporation, Shimla and all Junior Engineers dealing with the supply of potable water, deployed with Municipal Corporation, Shimla, which group shall share details of water received from various Schemes for the purpose of distribution by the Corporation and also the details of its distribution Zonewise, which Zones have been so constituted by the Committee framed by the State. There should be hourly updates in this regard in the group.
- Junior Engineer concerned shall share details of all Keymen under them, including the timing and the place where each Keyman has either opened the key for allowing the water to flow or closed the same. Update in this regard on the Whatsapp group has to be within five minutes of the actual act being performed by the Keyman at the site. Details of water controlling valves (Keys) of each of the Keymen, presently holding the Key, shall be made available to Sh. P.P. Ranta, Member Secretary, Himachal Pradesh State Legal Services Authority within 24 hours, for the purposes of monitoring the uploading of such information.
- All Keymen be sensitized that if not on Whatsapp, then they should provide said information forthwith from their Mobiles to the concerned Junior Engineer(s). We hold each Junior Engineer responsible to update this data on the Whatsapp group and any laxity exercised by anyone, shall amount to contempt of orders passed by this Court.
Surveillance of Keymen; recording of video of turning the key on and off
- In order to check inequitable distribution of water by the Keyman, all Keymen shall be kept under surveillance and they shall be accompanied by at least two police officials and the activity of turning On and Off the Key shall be video recorded. This can easily be done through the smart phones carried by the officials, for the number of keymen are just 62 in number.
Immediate action on overflowing of water
- The factum of overflowing of water shall be forthwith shared on the Whatsapp and immediate remedial measures shall be taken in this regard not later than 30 minutes of the receipt of said information. Corporation shall be at liberty to forthwith disconnect the water connections of persons/parties whose acts of omission result in such overflowing of water pending further action.
Preparation of jingles
- Jingles be prepared and aired by the Municipal Corporation, Shimla to both educate and sensitize the public at large that prudent usage of water is the need of the hour and also as to what steps should be taken by the public to conserve and save water.
- In addition, State Legal Services Authority to also prepare and air such like jingles so as to sensitize the public in this regard, also informing the factum of the members of the High Court Bar Association and the PLVs assisting the officers of the Municipal Corporation.
Elected representatives of corporation to be involved
- Elected representatives of the Corporation be positively involved in the act of sensitizing the public of the Wards concerned, of the need to cooperate with the Cooperation in the process of distribution of water. If any of such elected representatives is found to be acting against the interest of the public at large or the Corporation, then the said fact shall be forthwith reported to the Court for appropriate orders for it shall tantamount to interfere with the course of justice, which fact be made known to them. The Deputy Commissioner, Shimla, shall be at liberty to take all measures in accordance with law.
Action against abuse of domestic connection
- In the event of detection of abuse of any domestic connection which is being used for commercial/unauthorized purpose, the same be disconnected forthwith, pending action which can be so initiated against the defaulter by the Corporation.
Timings to be notified for water distribution
- In order to streamline the distribution of water intra Wards so identified by the Committee constituted by the State, approximate timings be specified within which the consumer can expect the water to be distributed in his or her area.
No water tankers to individuals and VIPs
- Despite orders passed by the Court, it has been reported that Municipal Corporation, Shimla is supplying water to individuals through tankers. We take exception to the same and direct that no individual save and except the offices/residences of His Excellency the Governor of Himachal Pradesh and the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, shall be provided with water in tankers by the Municipal Corporation, Shimla, especially the so called VIPs.
- We clarify that Municipal Corporation, Shimla, in the course of supplying water to the public at large through tankers, is not to cater to the need of individuals, meaning thereby that water is not to be distributed through tankers in the water tanks of individuals. Sh. Ranta shall keep inventory of the water distributed through such tankers.
Drilling of water by private individuals
- It has been brought to the notice of the Court that drilling of water has been undertaken by private individuals. We direct the Deputy Commissioner, Shimla to explore the possibility of utilizing this water for purpose(s) other than drinking. The issue as to whether such like activity can be undertaken by the private individuals or not shall be taken up by the Court on the next date of hearing.
- We also direct the State Administration to ensure that miscreants do not disturb/create hurdle in the distribution of water by the Municipal Corporation through water tankers. We further direct that no Dharnas in this regard shall be allowed to be held to ensure that the distribution of water is done to one and all in a peaceful manner.
Disconnection of water to hotels with pending dues
- The process of disconnection of water connections of defaulter hotel owners shall be commenced forthwith and no laxity shall be exercised by the Corporation in the said process.
Individual case of overflowing water tank
- J.S. Bhogal, learned Senior Counsel has apprised this Court that in the morning hours, whereas his and other households in the vicinity of his residence were not even being provided a bucket of water, an adjacent house belonging to an employee of Municipal Corporation, Shimla was witnessing overflowing of water tanks. Despite this fact being brought to the notice of the Nodal Officer, no effort was made to address the complaint. Mr. Naresh Kumar Gupta, learned Standing Counsel for the Corporation shall obtain the particulars of the area in question as also the person whose water tanks were found to be overflowing and his water connection shall be disconnected forthwith and shall not be reconnected without the leave of the Court.
Timings of water distribution sole discretion of Municipal Corporation Committee
- We clarify that the extent of water to be distributed and the timings with regard thereto is left solely to the discretion of the Committee constituted by the State/ Commissioner Municipal Corporation, Shimla, which discretion, we are confident, shall be exercised judiciously and in public interest.
Monitoring of situation by the CM
- As apprized by the learned Advocate General, we are appreciative of the efforts put in by Hon’ble the Chief Minister in himself monitoring the situation, resulting into the increase of water to be distributed amongst the residents of Shimla town.
Restraint by Media
- Taking into consideration the historic importance of the Town, as also the factum of Shimla being world over known as “the Queen of Hills”, which attracts tourists from the entire world, Media to exercise restraint and not sensationalize the issue so as to dissuade the tourists from visiting Shimla. We are not even remotely suggesting that the Media should not report the facts, but what we are observing is that Media should restrain from publishing material which may be construed as a message that tourists are either not welcome in the town or that the tourists should not visit the town.
The matter has now been listed on 11 June.Read the Order Here