Nature of things: Familiar water crisis story plays out in Shimla - The Tribune India

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Nature of things

Familiar water crisis story plays out in Shimla

Nature of things


ACUTE water scarcity in summer months has a familiar ring to it for Shimla’s residents. It’s the least of concerns though for the thousands of tourists who flock to the hills in sheer desperation to escape the scorching heat of the plains. In 2018, the scarcity in Shimla was aggravated to a full-blown crisis as taps ran dry for weeks. Elaborate remedial measures were taken. The century-old water storage and distribution network was refurbished. Restoration initiatives were put in place. Improving the quality of water was prioritised. Things did look up for some time. This year, the crisis is slowly inching back toward the dreaded 2018 levels. Rationing has been announced. Water will be supplied after a gap of two days. Residents of some localities, mainly on the periphery, claim they are getting supply after three or four days. Much like in Delhi, the alarm bells are ringing.

An expert analysis of the 2018 crisis focused on the man-made factors. In the popular narrative, however, a repeat is being played out six years down the line. The prolonged dry spell is being blamed for the reduction in the water level at all sources of supply schemes. Several are on the verge of drying up due to excessive heat and less snowfall during the winter season. Any hope of relief has been pinned on a spell of rainfall. In short, since nature did us in, nature will bail us out. We pretend that none of it is our doing: neither climate change, nor man-made folly like reckless concretisation or the encroachment of catchment areas. So unabashedly self-destructive are our ways.

Native wisdom says respect nature and it will reciprocate. The construct of collective responsibility and accountability escapes even routine political and policy-making conversations. Each of us is a stakeholder — it’s that simple.

#Shimla


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