Officials summoned over supply of contaminated water

Shimla, Jan 4 (IANS) Taking serious note of supply of contaminated water in the ‘Queen of Hills’, as Shimla is popularly called, the Himachal Pradesh High Court on Monday issued notice to the state.

It directed the chief secretary, the principal secretary (irrigation and public health), the principal secretary (health) and the municipal commissioner to be present in the court on Tuesday.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir and Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan, which treated media reports regarding supply of contaminated water as a public interest litigation, passed the order.

It was reported in the media that Ashwani Khud, which supplies water to one-third of Shimla’s population, is highly contaminated.

It said sewage mixed with the drinking water was being supplied to the residents, which has created an epidemic-like situation in the town.

During the hearing, it was observed by the court that drinking water is one of the basic necessities for the people.

“Because of the apathy on the part of the authorities concerned, the people of Shimla town do not have access to clean drinking water and are falling prey to many waterborne diseases,” observed the court.

Unscientific disposal of sewage and solid waste is threatening the pristine environment and water sources of Shimla, an official told IANS.

Quoting last year’s observations of the Comptroller and Auditor General that highlights the inadequacies of the Shimla Municipal Corporation, he said just 13 percent of the sewage generated in Shimla is treated and the rest is left in the open – despite Rs.74 crore ($12 million) being spent for installing six treatment plants.

Planned for a maximum population of 16,000, Shimla is home to 170,000 people as per the 2011 census and generates 30.09 million litres per day (MLD) of sewage.

The CAG said the utilisation of six sewerage treatment plants was only 4.8 MLD (13 percent) against the installed capacity of 35.63 MLD.

Worn-out sewers and non-existence of a sewerage network are the main reasons for non-tapping of sewage.

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