The Himachal Pradesh High Court on Monday took suo moto cognizance of the acute shortage of potable water in the state capital, directing the civic body to file the status report.
A division bench, headed by acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol, asked the Municipal Commissioner and the Engineer to appear personally on Tuesday.
"The problem of water scarcity within Shimla, as highlighted, takes us to yet another issue and that being as to whether any new construction should be allowed to come up within the Municipal limits of Shimla town at all or not," observed the bench, also comprising Justice Ajay Mohan Goel.
"Whether the present holding capacity is sufficient enough to cater to the ever growing urban population or not is an issue which certainly needs to be addressed," it added.
Protesting the prevailing water scarcity on for almost a week, advocates of the High Court and district court abstained from the court work.
A majority of localities in Shimla are facing a severe water supply crisis, getting potable water only once a week.
The reason is that all water channels in Shimla and its suburbs, which are normally quenching the thirst of the people, have dried up this summer owing to less snowfall in the past winter and less rains thereafter.
City residents say the problem has aggravated ever since the mercury shot up. Moreover, the sweeping heat wave across north India led to an influx of tourists to this popular destination to seek refuge in its cooler climes and they drained out the water.
Facing criticism and local protests, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur called an emergency meeting here and constituted a high-level committee led by Chief Secretary Vineet Chawdhry to monitor the situation.
The committee has been authorised to take all necessary steps, including requisitioning, hiring of tankers and other resources both from the government and private, to ensure proper supply of drinking water, an official statement said.
Thakur directed officials concerned to check water losses due to leakage in the pipes and also plug all water connections used for construction purposes. He said strict action would be taken against the erring officers who show laxity towards their duties.
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