Our Take

Save Shimla

Save Shimla
Just as we were revising our vacation plans to the hills following Shimla’s water woes, news came in that Thailand, which survives on the tourism economy, has shut down the famed Maya Bay, the backdrop of the Hollywood cult film The Beach. The authorities there wanted the coral reefs and marine life to revive themselves and prevent the sand-churning by tour boats from clouding the crystal clear waters. Unfettered tourism had run its course and the place will now be opened only periodically. If anything the Shimla crisis has taught us, it is that the city authorities must embrace responsible tourism practices forthwith. We must realise that the entire Himalayan region has been threatened with scarcity as acquifers run dry because of overuse brought on by development, over-population, much of it fuelled by resort tourism, depleting forest cover to favour land use and erratic rainfall patterns due to climate change. Mountain springs are the only source of water for drinking, domestic and agricultural purposes in both cities and hamlets. And now that even the perennial ones have dried up, the only way out for Shimla is to reduce tourist pressure for the time being. Or till the water sources are refilled and recharged. No amount of good rain and snow can account for serving the needs of the burgeoning populace. So Shimla residents, on an emergency basis, must take up harvesting and recycling water by laying parallel pipes on the slopes, next to their existing ones to collect all kinds of run-off in tanks. The hotel industry, which has so long gained from tourist arrivals, must take the lead in recycling, harvesting and treating waste water and adopt sustainable practices with a rigidity of purpose than profit.  


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