Shimla’s key men are being guarded by police

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Shimla: Hari Ram (51) never felt so important in his 22 years of service, guarded four policemen guarding him, two labourers at his command, and Junior Engineer (JE) Rakesh Thakur to monitor his work.

Who is Hari Ram?

Hari Ram is a keyman, one of 62 on the rolls of the Shimla Municipal Corporation. The city’s key men, a concept as old as the water network designed by the British in the 1870s, have for decades been turning on the valves that control Shimla’s water distribution network. Now, with the city reeling under an unprecedented water crisis, these are men who, as the High Court said on June 1, “hold the key”; reported the Indian Express.

The water crisis in Shimla

Shimla residents have been facing severe water shortage for more than two weeks now.  Authorities have put in place a rationing system under which the hill city has been divided into three zones and each zone receives water alternatively – after two days.

Why  are they being  guarded

During the court hearing, when some lawyers accused keymen of favouring hoteliers and VIPs, saying they ensured more water to these areas while depriving water to ordinary citizens, the court said, “It is an open secret that the keyman is the key as far as the distribution of water to the consumer is concerned. He is the first and the last person between the water available for distribution and the consumer. If he performs his duty honestly, prudently and skillfully, he can ensure equal distribution of water to all, but if a keyman happens to abuse his position, then the results can be disastrous, reported the Indian Express.

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