Dharamshala, a hill city surrounded by dense cedar forests on the edge of the Himalayas, is facing acute drinking water shortage as the tourist season is about to begin this summer.
A district headquarter since 1845, Dharamshala is one of the major tourist destinations for people wanting to escape the intense heat-waves that sweep northern India, including the national capital Delhi, during the peak summer months.
The drinking water shortage prompted Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur to say yesterday that irrigation and water supply projects and schemes have been given priority by his government. He said Rs 2,572 crore was earmarked in the state budget for early completion of these programmes.
During the British rule, the Bhagsunath fresh water spring supplied water to Dharamshala and the hill city used to get uninterrupted water supply until the 1960s. Later, the government arranged drinking water from Gaj Khad river, which is a source of glacial waters of the Dhauladhar ranges.
Residents say the city had sufficient water supply until 2005-06. But as the population grew and tourist arrivals increased, the pressure on water supply lines also rose manifold.
It is now rather difficult to get food cooked with limited water supply, residents say. Hoteliers say visitors often complain they do not get enough water for their daily chores, and this has negatively impacted their business.
Many public toilets in the city had to be shut due to water shortage.
Vishal Bakshi, an official of the Irrigation and Public Health department of the state government, said water supply has decreased from the sources and the department was not getting enough water at the moment.
"(But) it will improve soon," Bakshi assured.
The IPH department has planned and implemented several schemes to ensure adequate supply of drinking water in Dharamshala.
A mega project was sanctioned for this after the city was declared the second municipal corporation of Himachal Pradesh after Shimla a few years ago.
On Friday, Chief Minister Thakur said the Rs 2,100-crore project would "provide world standard basic amenities to the residents of the city as well as tourists visiting the place."
He said this while reviewing the progress of 'Smart City Project Dharamshala'. He said augmentation and automation at source and plant for water supply schemes had been completed by spending Rs 29.73 crore.
But Dharamshala is still facing its worst water crises.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)