Drinking water crisis in Himachal amid rising temperatures

Scanty rains and snowfall, coupled with rising temperatures, causing water resources to dry up

Representative image
Representative image


Scanty rains and snowfall, along with rising temperatures, are causing water resources to dry up in Himachal Pradesh, affecting 478 drinking water supply schemes in the state, of which 32 are in the Dharampur area of Solan region, officials said on Wednesday.

"Reduction of water at the source was more than 75 per cent and with no alternative source, water is being supplied after three to four days," Jal Shakti department engineer-in-chief Anju Sharma said.

"We are trying to meet the demand by lifting water from the Giri water supply and interlinking the small schemes and have made a request to the administration for the supply of water through tankers," she said, adding that the situation is under control and not critical so far, but could worsen if temperatures continue to rise.

There are 10,067 functional schemes giving water to about 3,500 panchayats in the state.

Five to six villages are also affected in Kaza in tribal Spiti valley, but there is demand for more water for irrigation and the use of drinking water for irrigation has led to this shortage, Sharma said.

She appealed to people to refrain from using drinking water for irrigation to overcome this challenge. As handpumps are very successful in the Kaza tribal area, more handpumps are being installed to provide drinking water, Sharma said.

The situation will ease if rains come, as the demand for irrigation water will decrease and more water will be available for drinking, which is being tackled by curtailing the duration of water supply in places where reduction at source was between 25 and 50 per cent, she added.

Sharma said all possible measures were being taken to manage the situation, and staff holidays have been cancelled. Besides, new water connections and construction supply have been put on hold until 15 July.

Special attention is being paid to ensure the quality of water and testing is being done at all levels to ensure that there is no outbreak of any pandemic and sufficient stocks are available for chlorination of water.

Besides Solan, there are pockets in some other districts where supply was being given on the third day, she said, adding that in areas where water shortage at source was 25 to 50 per cent, the situation is being tackled by reducing the duration of water supply.

Water shortage during the summers was a major problem and worsened in tourist destinations like Kasauli and Shimla as many tourists visit hill resorts in summer.

In 2018, Shimla ran out of water for several days. Water availability had dropped to 18 MLD against an average of 37-38 MLD back then. The crisis worsened to the extent that residents and hoteliers turned to social media advising tourists not to visit Shimla till the problem was resolved.

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