The Himachal Pradesh High Court on Monday took cognisance of the water crisis in Shimla, asking whether any new construction should be allowed to come up within the city’s municipal limits, reported PTI. Water is frequently pilfered during illegal construction activity in parts of the city, according to the Financial Express.

A division bench of acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Ajay Mohan Goel said the town did not have its own perennial source of water and that water had to be pumped from river sources at a distant place. “Whether the present holding capacity is sufficient to cater to the ever-growing urban population or not, is an issue which certainly needs to be addressed,” it said.

The court also questioned the municipal commissioner and the chief engineer of the city on what steps are being taken to tackle the crisis, reported PTI.

A major water shortage has hit Shimla city, with taps going dry for the last eight days, according to the Hindustan Times. Residents have been forced to buy water at exorbitant rates and smaller hotels in the tourist town have cancelled bookings due to the water shortage.

The Shimla Municipal Corporation on Monday arranged fourteen water tankers to provide water to residents. The water shortage is severe in areas such as Kasumpati, Chhota Shimla, Vikasnagar, Patyog, Kangna Dhar, New Shimla and Panthaghati, according to NDTV.

On Sunday night, several men and women assembled outside the waterworks office on Mall Road for a midnight sit-in protest, reported The Indian Express. They later decided to march towards the residence of Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, but police stopped them. Following the protest, Thakur on Monday ordered the setting-up of a high-level committee under Chief Secretary Vineet Chawdhry to mitigate the water crisis.

Shimla’s daily requirement of water is around 42 million litres a day but supply has come down to 22 MLD, reported NDTV. Chief Secretary Vineet Chawdhry said a decline in the availability of water at the two main supply sources – Giri and Gumma – is the main problem, adding that poor rainfall and snowfall too have led to depletion of water.