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Life is no picnic in the hills

Amitabh Shukla, Mussoorie
Hindustan Times, February 6, 2007

Life is tough in Mussoorie, says 56-year old Phool Singh. Water supply in his small house in the “Queen of Hills” is a small trickle on most days.

And on such occasions, he is foced to trek to the municipal tap, a few hundred yards away from his house to fetch it for his household. Singh sells woollens on the Mall Road pavement in this popular north Indian hill station.

If water is a problem at home, “it is dwindling sales at work”, he says. For fewer tourists have visited this winter.

He lists scarce water and parking space as the biggest issues here. He blames the hotel owners for using up al the water.

Both the ruling Congress and the oppo sition BJP promise to improve water supply and provide ample parking space in the peak tourist months of May and June.

Jot Singh Gunsola, senior Congress leader and the party candidate from the seat, agrees with these problems, but has few solutions.

Phool Singh has other pressing problems for him. Rising prices head the list. His neighbour, Heera Bhandari, who sells local handicrafts, says his family of six will vote for anyone who “does something on the price front”.

Gunsola says the Congress “government has done a lot in the last five years. The unfinished agenda would be completed if we get back to power,” he said.

But Phool Singh and Bhandari are not impressed. “We have only seen promises. When will they solve basic issues?”