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Himachal

Posted at: May 26, 2018, 12:03 AM; last updated: May 26, 2018, 12:03 AM (IST)

HC directive to Union govt on water shortage

Vijay Arora

Shimla, May 25

Expressing concern on the issue of water scarcity in the state, the HP High Court on Friday directed the Assistant Solicitor General of India to file an affidavit indicating the status of water augmentation schemes which are presently pending with the Union Government.

The court further directed him to apprise the court of the schemes which are presently pending with NABARD.

A Division Bench comprising the acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Ajay Mohan Goel further directed the Union Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation to take steps for providing funds required for the augmentation of the water schemes, proposals of which already stand sent by the state to the Union Ministry.

The court passed this order after perusing the affidavit filed by the Engineer-in-Chief, IPH, informing the court about the schemes and the proposals that had already been submitted with the Union Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation regarding Remodelling/Renovation of Old Rural Water Supply Schemes of Himachal Pradesh.

He further informed that the estimate of this proposal is approximately 798 crores and the state has sought financial assistance from the Central Water Ministry for implementing this project.

While perusing the affidavit filed by the Engineer-in-Chief the bench observed, “It is evidently clear that at least with respect to three districts i.e., Hamirpur, Kangra and Mandi, the situation with regard to supply of potable drinking water to the habitations is highly inadequate. Not even 50 per cent of such habitations are fully covered as per the norms of the state. The position with regard to other districts is also not very happy and the position is best highlighted in the affidavit.”

The court further observed, “State is blessed with many perennial rivers like Satluj, Beas, Ravi, Chinav, Pabar, Chander and Bhaga etc. As much as 90 per cent of the state population lives in rural areas. Its population is approximately 70 lakhs. Even after more than 70 years of independence not even 50 per cent of 53,604 habitations so identified by the Irrigation and Public Health Department stand provided adequate potable water.”

It further observed, “It cannot be said that per se there is paucity of water in the state. However, perhaps, paucity of will to provide adequate potable water to the residents of the state is there as far as the administration is concerned. Otherwise, in our considered view, there can be no cogent justification as to why till date 50 per cent of the habitations in the state of Himachal Pradesh are not fully covered for the purposes of providing adequate potable water to the residents.”

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