In Parched Maha, Water Rationed for Beer Cos
State govt has also been critical of use by water-guzzling sugarcane crops Drought Fight
Pune: As Maharashtra faces severe drought conditions, the government has rationed water to the beer industry and has been critical of the use of water for sugarcane – known to be a water guzzler – as it tries to control a fast worsening situation. Use of water from Jayakwadi, one of the largest reservoirs in India and a lifeline of the Marathwada region, which has a population of 2 crore, is the current bone of contention. A few weeks ago, the state assembly 56 million
had spent considerable time discussing if it was correct for the sugar mills in Latur to use water for crushing sugarcane, given the scarcity in the region.
“Rather than the sugar mills, it is the sugarcane which probably uses more water. The mills nowadays use water in sugarcane for their operations, and sugarcane farmers should shift to drip irrigation. However, we cannot tell farmers not to cultivate sugarcane without making alternative crops such as pulses or soyabean equally remunerative for them,” said Latur-based Atul Deulgaonkar, who specialises in environmental studies.
While sugarcane has been blamed for misuse of water in the state for very long, the beer industry in Aurangabad, which houses leading brands such as Foster's, Carlsberg and Heineken, is currently under the scanner for its water use. The local administration has already cut water supply to the beer industry by 20% from the earlier 10% from Sunday onwards.
A minister from the state's cabinet, however, told ET that the state government had entered into agreements to reserve water used for making beer.
Currently, Aurangabad is using water from the dead pool of Jayakwadi, and irrigation officials are claiming that there’s eno- ugh water to take care for at least the next three months. Locals are also worried about losing their jobs. “People are not migrating from drought-hit villages because there’s no water to drink, but because they do not have any work,” said a farmer from Marathwada region, who did not wish to be identified.
But people aren’t resting on assurances and are getting worried about the availability of drinking water for the next three months. “When one has to take a call on choosing water for the industry or for drinking, priority should be given to drinking water,” said Deulgaonkar.
Minister of state for water resources Vijay Shivtare said, “We will look into it.”
Local admin has already cut water supply to the beer industry by 20% from the earlier 10% since Sunday