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Till we meet again: Shimla Water Crisis

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All About Shimla Water Crisis

The Honourable Supreme Court in its conclusion to the case Narmada Bachao Andolan Vs Union of India and others on October 18, 2000 states:

Water is the basic need for the survival of human beings and is part of the right of life and human rights as enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution of India and can be served only by providing a source of water where there is none.

At the time of writing this article, the water crisis in Shimla is effectively over but the fault lines have already been drawn. The crisis placed the beautiful town of Shimla in the global spotlight for all the ugly reasons and highlighted the fissures in this fragile place.

Every source of media whether Indian or Western underscored the problem and compared it to the Cape Town Water crisis. A few went a step further and used the words such as “Day Zero” or “Water Wars” in respect of Shimla without exactly understanding the gravity of the situation and the message the words carry.

Day Zero is when in any town or city the authorities shut off the water supply except hospitals and other vital institution with the majority of residents lining up at water check-points for their daily supply.

Water wars need no introduction except that it takes place between the haves and the have-nots.

All this was done without giving a thought to one’s social responsibility as a citizen or a source of information no matter authentic or apocryphal.

Shimla & Cape Town

Shimla is no Cape Town; it will have to walk several hundred miles to become something even remotely close to it. Cape Town had suffered three years of unprecedented drought, which depleted its water reservoirs supplying water to the city. Due to this, the city had advised its residents to prepare themselves for the purported Day Zero, the year being 2018.

However, before that Cape Town had already embarked on the path for conservation in the year 2007 and had prepared Water Conservation and Water Demand Management Strategy (WC/WDM).

If there existed any prescience in a city in a third world country, then it was Cape Town. Before the introduction of the programme, the water consumption in the city was growing at the rate of 4.7% per annum.

But through its excellent management strategies and innovation Cape Town was able to reduce water consumption growth at a rate of less than 2% per annum. It resulted in a reduction of water wastage by 20% and total water savings of 30% approx.).

For its sustained efforts and successful conservation, Cape Town won first prize for Adaption & Implementation in C40 Cities Award 2015 beating 91 cities including Copenhagen and Paris.

The city did not encourage the tourists to stay away- rather it launched “Save Like a Local Campaign” requesting tourists to keep their water usage to under 87 liters per day, the same restrictions placed on residents. In Cape Town, the Mayor can anytime come knocking at your door to check the water management.

In this city only, the top 100 water user streets were publicised. Water tariffs were structured to cater to poor households. And our intentions are to see ourselves at par with this city, a city that even in times of distress has maintained its dignity.

South Eastern Queensland

Entire Australia suffered drought in the 2000s due to climatic disturbances with South East Queensland being the major casualty. During the beginning of the drought, the per person usage of the Queenslanders was 300 liters per person per day for washing, eating, drinking, and gardening.

Come the year 2015, it was reduced to 169 liters per person per day. Even before the worst phase of drought began in the year 2007, the outdoor water-related restrictions were already in place since 2005.

It was then, that the Queensland Water Commission launched the Target 140 campaign. The campaign emphasized voluntary residential indoor water saving practices, behaviors and attitudes.

The campaign was a success since it achieved a permanent behavioral and attitudinal change. Over a sustained period of eight months of the campaign, the average daily water consumption dropped from 179 liters to 126 liters per person per day.
This change effectively resulted in savings of 20,680 million liters of water.

Shimla

Life is always full of options, and one such option is “Fight or Flight” and we the people of Shimla choose the flight option when we requested tourists to skip Shimla this summer.

This might have worked for now with tourists staying away from Shimla but this may not work every time. And it will be not long before we realize that such exhortations will strip Shimla of its Soul first and silver later.

We the people of Shimla take pride by seeing ourselves in one of the richest and educated towns in the country. But it is high time, we realize that the next summer is only 300 days away and this crisis is not to be wasted.

We need to learn, how other cities of the world managed to come out of such crises and set examples for the whole world to see. It needs to be ensured that the crisis is not given a rerun the next summer but it will involve drudgery (being primal) on the part of everyone living in Shimla or loving Shimla.

Initially, on the macro level, we need to focus on both the supply side as well as the demand side. First, we should begin with the cheaper solutions i.e. the demand side solutions. The stakeholders in this being residents, hotels, tourists and it can be done by a change in our attitudes. Our behavior and attitudes should reflect the water saving practices which over a period of time become the norm for us.

Incentivising water saving would be the step to go forward on the similar lines of Carbon credits, how about Blue credits. Next would be the supply side solutions, i.e. the costly ones, augmenting the resources catering to Shimla, be it the upcoming Government Schemes or the existing supply schemes.

The city under all circumstances should be prepared for the worst day if it so ever comes.
On a micro level, the dead water or zero revenue water should be reduced, which would effectively mean overhauling the supply systems, so that there are no leakages.

Equipping our buildings with rainwater harvesting systems and similarly incentivising this practice would also go a long way in recharging the groundwater.

Meanwhile, improving the city drainage system would mean that outpouring does not end up in the city sewers. Replacement of the old and antiquated water meters, so that the profligate users are identified and brought to justice.

Taking of Shimla from grey to green by increasing its greenery would ensure that we do not give into concrete. The publishing of Water Report every year, before the onset of summer, outlining water availability in the upcoming months, would ensure that all the stakeholders are made aware in advance of the upcoming water situation.

And all this would begin with a realization of our rights, of our authority and an adage, which goes by Of the People, By the People, For the People, always in the back of our mind.

Water scarcity is here to stay and if there is any chance, it is going to go northwards only.

By Maneet, Shimla

Disclaimer: Himachal Watcher may not share the same views and opinions as expressed by the author in this article. 

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HP Electric Vehicle Policy 2019 – Govt Proposes 100 percent Transition to EVs by 2030

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HP Electric Vehicle Policy - 2019

Shimla- Himachal Pradesh Electric Vehicle Policy- 2019 is to establish in the state, informed Chief Secretary Dr. Shrikant Baldi during a meeting held on September 18, 2019, regarding the framing of the draft for the policy.

Electric Vehicle policy is targeted at achieving 100 percent transition to Electric Vehicles by 2030 in Himachal in alignment with United Nation’s sustainable development goals and vision of Government of India, Baldi said. It’s intended to save the environment, accelerate demand for EV’s, promote sustainable transport system and to create public-private charging infrastructure for EV’s.

The policy also aims to make Himachal Pradesh a model state for Electric Vehicle (EV) adoption and to provide sustainable, safe, eco-friendly, inclusive and integrated mobility, Baldi informed.

He further added that the policy is being framed to create a conducive atmosphere for a shift from Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) to EV’s, and to encourage the use of hybrid EV’s by the Government entities during the transition period and to create newer employment opportunities.

Under this policy, the promotion of adoption of EV technology would be done by the way of providing fiscal and non-fiscal incentives. It would promote the creation of dedicated infrastructure for charging of EV’s through various incentives as per standards notified for Public Charging Infrastructure by Ministry of Power, Government of India guidelines.

He informed that a viable business model will be developed for private players to set up EV charging stations and infrastructure/. Provision for charging spots in commercial buildings such as hotels and shopping malls have also been included in the policy. Across the state, domestic rate of electrical power will be charged if an electric vehicle is charged at domestic user facility.

In public charging facility and commercial charging stations “Non-Domestic, Non-Commercial” rate of electric power would be applicable. However, the Himachal Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission shall be the final authority to determine the rate of electrical power to EV charging stations from time to time.

Himachal Pradesh Electricity Board Limited has been designated as State Nodal Agency for setting up charging infrastructure for EV in the State by the department of Multi-Purpose Projects Power. The State nodal agency shall fix the ceiling of the service charges to be charged by the public or commercial charging stations.

The policy also aims to support local manufacturing for which the State Government would provide incentives to EV batteries and related components manufacturing and disposal in the State. The incentives would be provided to eligible enterprises as per Himachal Pradesh Industrial Policy as applicable from time to time.

A State-level High Power Committee was also constituted for monitoring the implementation of this policy and for development of procedures and modalities where required.

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Solar Power Plants in Himachal Pradesh to be Set up Soon, Rs. 1000 Crore MoUs Singed: HP Govt

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Solar Power Plants in Himachal Pradesh

Shimla-To set Solar Power Plants in Himachal Pradesh, the State Government has signed two Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) worth Rs. 1000 crore with two companies.

One MoU worth Rs. 600 crore was signed between State Government and Renew Energy Pvt. Ltd. through Director of the Company Prabhat Kumar Mishra for setting up of 150 MW Solar Power Plant in the State to produce green energy. This project is proposed to start production from 2021 and provide employment to over 1000 persons

While another MoU worth Rs. 400 crore was also signed with CSE Development (India) Pvt. Ltd. for setting up of 100 MW  Solar Plant to produce renewal energy by Director Business Development & Head Open Access Vikram Madan on behalf of the company.  This project on completion would provide employment to about 700 persons.

On behalf of the State Government, the MoUs were signed by Principal Secretary, Power and Renewal Energy Resources Prabodh Saxena.  

The government said the projects have direct employment potential of about 1700 people besides self-employment avenues to thousands of people.

The Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said the State Government would facilitate the companies to obtain necessary permissions and clearances etc. from the concerned authorities at the earliest so that work on these projects could be started soon. He said that work to set up the plants would be initiated soon as land had already been identified in Una and Kangra districts.

He said that Union Government has fixed the target of harnessing about 99533 MW solar power in the country through renewal solar energy out of which the State has been asked to achieve the target of exploitation of 776 MW solar power by the year 2022.

 

🤣🤣

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Video: Leopard Sighting in Shimla on NH-5 Near Kanlog

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Leopard sighting in Shimla city

Shimla-Leopard sightings in residential areas and on roadsides in Shimla is becoming frequent. Last week, a leopard was spotted near Kanlog on Tutikandi-Dhalli bypass. The leopard was captured on a mobile camera by some commuters. The leopard disappeared into the adjoining forest later.

Similarly, a sighting was reported by a local from Chaura Maidan area very recently.

Mostly, the leopards enter residential areas looking for dogs. Littering and inappropriately disposed of garbage attracts dogs and dogs attract leopards.

However, their sighting creates panic among residents. The Forest Department has been trying to capture these leopards by placing cages in the areas from where reports of sighting were received. However, so far, the department did not get any success.

Wildlife experts advise people to not bend down or look into the eyes of a leopard directly in case they encounter one. Bending down or looking directly into their eyes are perceived by these animals as preparedness for attack or a challenge.

Also, as per the experts, leopards are shy animals and avoid humans. They prefer to hunt down prey that doesn’t weigh more than 30-40 kg. That’s why a person in a crouching position would appear like a smaller animal to leopards and the chances are high that they would attack. This also explains why children are more vulnerable than adults.

Make sure that there is no garbage littered near residential areas to avoid attracting dogs.

To be safe, while crossing vulnerable areas, playing loud music on the mobile phone is also advisable. In that case, a leopard won’t mistake a human for another animal.

If you have pets, keep them in enclosed spaces after it gets dark. Do not form a crowd on seeing a leopard. It would frighten the animal and make an attack imminent, say experts.

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