The Himachal Pradesh cabinet has approved a draft package of the Sutlej water supply scheme worth Rs 1,813 crore to end Shimla’s water crisis for at least the next half-a-century. The project is funded by the World Bank.
On Tuesday, in the cabinet meeting, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur approved the Urban Development Department’s negotiation with the World Bank and Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Government of India for funding Shimla Water Supply and Sewerage Services delivery programme to securing 24×7 water supply to Greater Shimla areas till 2050.
Earlier, the World Bank negotiators had refused to put the project into action mode after citing the non-availability of resources due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The total funding is $250 million (INR 1,813 Crore) from which the World Bank will provide financial assistance of $ 160 Million (INR 1160.32 Crore) and the Government of Himachal Pradesh will provide a total of $90 Million (INR 652.68 Crore) for the project.
As per the draft, the water will be lifted from the Sutlej river near village Shakrodi. It involves lifting the water to a height of 1.6 km and setting up a pipe of 22 km to elevate 67 MLD water at Sanjauli. Moreover, the project will also replace the distribution pipe network across the Municipal Corporation and upgrade it to a 24×7 water supply system. Simultaneously, a sewerage network will be provided in the areas of Mehli-Panthaghati, Totu, and Mashobra.
Currently, Shimla is getting nearly 46 MLD of water supply from about eight sources. In 2018, Shimla faced the worst ever water crisis due to the massive surge in footfall of tourists. At that time the availability of water in the city fell to 17-18 MLD against a demand of 42 MLD. Some environmentalists cite climate change as the reason behind the Shimla water crisis.
However, the state government had taken major steps to deal with the crisis especially during the tourist seasons.