New Delhi: Water crisis is spreading across north India as the temperature continues its upward march. While Himachal Pradesh capital Shimla has barely enough to drink, parts of Rajasthan's Ajmer is locking up its water drums to prevent theft. In villages of eastern Uttar Pradesh, women are walking miles to fill their pitchers. The water crisis is Shimla has been on for the last 10 days and there is no immediate solution in sight, the authorities indicate. They hope the pre-monsoon showers by the third week of June should improve the situation.
Here is your 10-point cheatsheet to this big story:
- As the summer is getting intense, several states, including Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Chhattisgarh have been reeling under water crisis.
- Supply in Shimla increased marginally yesterday for the second day after the Shimla Municipal Corporation plugged leakages and snapped illegal connections. The city received an extra 9 millon litres - but the 37 MLD it got is still far less than the 45 MLD it needs.
- The Uttar Pradesh government has declared five districts as drought hit. Sonbhadra in eastern Uttar Pradesh and the Bundelkhand region are the most affected.
- In Sonbhadra, piped water is not available in half the villages, in many cases, handpumps have dried up. Women have to walk 5 to 6 km a day to fetch water, sometimes they have to dig the ground to get water.
- In parts of Ajmer, taps are running dry. There isn't enough drinking water, and in one village, sewage water is being supplied to homes.
- In Shimla, government schools have been shut for five days in view of the water crisis. Construction and car washes have been banned. Water rationing is on and policemen are being stationed whenever tankers are bringing water, to stop possible violence among the queued up locals.
- Chota Shimla is one of the worst affected areas. After no water for 11 days, a tanker brought 4000 litres for 3000 people of the area last week.
- The Himachal Pradesh high court, which is hearing a petition on water scarcity, has said there should be no supply of water to any individual through a tanker, even to VIPs, including judges.
- The water crisis has also hit tourism in the hill state in what is usually the peak season. Local travel agents say more than 90 per cent bookings have been cancelled after residents took to social media to beg tourists to stay away. In June, the population increases by at least a lakh as the tourists flock in.
- Authorities in Shimla say the water storage infrastructure in the town, built by the British, is not equipped to handle the growing population. Around 50 per cent of the water leaks out due to broken pipes. A major water source, Ashwani Khad, remains unused since it got contaminated and there has also been less snowfall, the authorities said.