The iconic Chadwick falls in the ‘Queen of Hills’, a tourist hotspot in the once summer retreat of the British Raj for nearly a century until India’s independence, may rise from the depths of the past with the state High Court directing the local civic authorities to restore its pristine glory.
The High Court this week directed the Deputy Commissioner of Shimla to take all measures to restore the glory of the falls.
“It is not in dispute that the glory of the Chadwick falls is of international fame. It has got its natural beauty, which undoubtedly needs to be protected and preserved for posterity,” a division bench comprising acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Ajay Mohan Goel observed.
The court passed the order on a letter of Rishabh Jain, a student of LLB second semester, HP University, Shimla, highlighting the issue of the maintenance of the famous water body falling within the municipal limits of Shimla to the Chief Justice.
Locals blame rapid construction activities in the catchment of the Chadwick falls, just seven kilometers from this tourist town, for drastic reduce in the flow of water.
The fall virtually dries up during the summer when tourists visit the place in large numbers.
A steep slope meandering through the state Assembly takes you to a sign board giving direction to the Chadwick falls, once perennial round the year.
“Your journey to the erstwhile picnic spot begins and ends there at the sign board that indicates direction to the Chadwick falls, which is not to be seen at all there almost round the year,” remarked Chandigarh-based marketing executive Rajat Malik, who spent his initial years in Shimla, told IANS.
He said even the pedestrian paths that link visitors to the origin of the Chadwick falls at the hilltop through the dense Glen forest have vanished owing to landslides and lack of maintenance.
“The road from Summer Hill, that takes the visitors close to the waterfall is also in bad shape. During monsoon it is treacherous to travel on that stretch. I don’t think it’s a vacation spot now,” added Malik, 48, who recently visited the Chadwick falls to refresh his childhood memories.
He had a shocking experience recently of finding empty liquor and pet bottles and plastic wrappers of eatables littered all around there.
Old-timer and local resident Shyam Thakur said the waterfall, which originates from a height of 1,586 metres, had water only during the monsoon. The water flow has been hampered mainly by large-scale construction activity in nearby areas like Summer Hill and Sangti.
During the summer and winter the Chadwick falls largely remain dry. “It is no more a treat for the eyes,” travel agent Rajesh Bhardwaj added.
Hyun village, located on the base of the Summer Hill, is known for the Chadwick falls.
The village has an ‘eco-friendly’ local deity Gan Devta, who resides in an open-air temple. Locals worship the trees around the temple as sacred grooves.
Noted artist Him Chatterjee, who sets up his art gallery in Hyun village, blamed haphazard constructions for the decline in water flow in the fall.
“Most of the houses in the vicinity of the waterfall do not have a proper sewerage system, which often results in mixing of drain water with the natural water of the fall,” he said.
He recently stumbled across a 1921 photo of the Chadwick fall with a mighty fall.
The government should take steps to ensure proper recharging of the waterfall discharge and maintain its upkeep from the tourism and religious point of view, Chatterjee, the Chairperson with the Visual Arts Department of the Himachal Pradesh University, said.