Shimla, June 1 (IANS) Set up WhatsApp group and prepare jingles to educate Shimla residents on conserving water, the Himachal Pradesh High Court on Friday told the local civic authorities.
Issuing a slew of directives, it said all 62 ‘keymen’, who are responsible for supplying water in localities, should be kept under surveillance to check its equitable distribution and also disconnect all those water connections where water tanks are overflowing.
In its resumed hearing on the fifth consecutive day, a division bench headed by acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol said the process to disconnect connections of water bill defaulting hotel owners should be commenced without any laxity.
Shimla is facing a water crisis almost a fortnight now as a majority of localities are getting potable water only once a week.
Taking into consideration the historic importance of Shimla, known as “the Queen of Hills”, and attracts tourists from the entire world, the judges asked the media to exercise restraint and not sensationalise 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 the 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.”
Listing the case’s next hearing on June 11, the court directed the local administration to ensure that direct that no ‘dharnas’ or sit-in protests shall be allowed to ensure that the distribution of water is done to one and all in a peaceful manner.
The court was categorically clear in saying once again that there should be no supply of water to any individual through a tanker, even to the VIPs, including the judges.
However, this order would not include the residences and offices of the Governor and the Chief Minister, it added.
Issuing advisory to the councillors, the bench, also comprising Justice Ajay Mohan Goel, said they should be involved in the act of sensitising the public, besides cooperating in the 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 this fact shall be forthwith reported to the court for appropriate orders. The Deputy Commissioner of Shimla shall be at liberty to take all measures in accordance with law.”
The judges asked the municipal and the state legal services authorities to educate the masses about conserving water through jingles.
On using social media, the bench said: “If not already constituted, a dedicated WhatsApp group be constituted forthwith…to share details of water received from various schemes for the purpose of distribution and also the details of its distribution zone wise.”
There should be hourly updates in this regard in the WhatsApp group, they said.
Planned by the British for a maximum population of 16,000, Shimla, now with a population of nearly 200,000, requires 42 million litres per day (MLD) water, but is currently getting around 20 MLD water.
Locals rue that Shimla is now synonymous with water scarcity — both in summer and winter.
The civic authorities blame leakages in the distribution network, a significant portion of which goes back to the British days, and diminishing water resources that have been over-exploited to meet the increasing demand for the tourism industry.