Himachal minister warns of looming water crisis, says sources drying up

Himachal Pradesh Water Minister Mahender Singh on Friday once again warned about the looming threat of a severe water crisis, which may affect the state this summer.

Replying to a private member resolution on depleting water levels in the state during the ongoing Assembly session, Singh said that water sources in Himachal have never started drying up so early during the year.

“It’s an alarming situation. Wells, nullahs and khads have started drying up already. Even river water levels have gone down. At some places, people can now simply wade through the Beas river to cross it,” said Singh.

The state received deficient snow and rain in the winter, due to which water sources are not being adequately recharged through meltwater from snow cover and glaciers, he said. Several other MLAs spoke about water shortage in parts of the state.

The minister appealed to members of the House to start constructing small water harvesting structures in their constituencies to tackle the oncoming water crisis. “We will also be restarting the installation of handpumps and borewells this year as per requirement, and water harvesting tanks will be built in each subdivision of the Jal Shakti department,” he said.

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‘Need to expand rail services’

Following a private resolution by MLA Ram Lal Thakur, the House discussed the need to expand rail connectivity in the state. Col. Inder Singh said that Himachal has not been able to realise its potential as a state due to lack of rail connectivity. Hoshyar Singh said that rail lines in Himachal were mostly laid down during the British era, and there has not been much rail expansion since then.

Lakhvinder Singh Rana said that the Ghanauli-Nalagarh rail line, which was functional in British India, needs to be revived. Jagat Singh Negi said that the Shimla-Kalka heritage railway track is an engineering marvel and contains over 900 sharp curves and more than a hundred tunnels. Any further attempt at widening the track could damage it altogether, he said.

Transport minister Bikram Singh said that railways fall under the purview of the central government. The land acquisition for two new rail lines – Bhanupalli-Beri and Chandigarh-Baddi – is underway, he said.

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