The Himachal Pradesh government is committed to maintain the old glory of Shimla town, India’s summer capital during the British Raj, and the Shimla Smart City Project is being executed by initiating various works, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said on Wednesday.
Laying the foundation stone of Rs 49 crore double-lane Dhalli tunnel here, he said the old tunnel was constructed way back in 1852, and the new 147-metre long tunnel would provide much-needed relief to the commuters.
Thakur said Shimla town has grown and expanded manifold and thus it is important that steps be taken for effective traffic management.
He said the state government was ensuring that all works under Smart City Project were executed at a fast pace.
He said the project although was started in 2016 but it gained momentum during the tenure of the present government.
The Chief Minister said Rs 70 crore water supply scheme for Shimla town was completed within a record time of a year to overcome water crisis. He said Rs 1,813 crore new water supply project for the town is being executed, which on completion would cater to the water requirement of the town for 100 years.
Urban Development Minister Suresh Bhardwaj said the tunnel would facilitate smooth plying of vehicle on the national highway. He said this tunnel connects Kasumpti and Shimla (Urban) Vidhan Sabha areas of Shimla district.
Several works such as widening of roads, construction of foot bridges, pedestrian paths and parkings were being executed under the Smart City Project in Shimla town, he added.
According to tourism industry representatives, Shimla gets 20,000-30,000 tourists on an average every weekend during the peak season — from May to June and November to January.
Shimla for the first time in its history saw an unprecedented water crisis in 2018, resulting in widespread protests and even marches to the Chief Minister’s residence at midnight.
At that time rampant water shortage forced residents to lock their water tanks and the government to provide security to water supply employees.
Old-timers blame the water crisis over the years for losing green cover and natural water streams and springs due to unplanned urbanisation. But climate experts blame decline in snow cover owing to deforestation and rise in pollution.
As per studies conducted by the scientists of the Indian Meteorological Department, the snow season in Shimla has shrunk by 21 days over the 1991-2001 period.