In Parched Maha, Wa­ter Ra­tioned for Beer Cos

State govt has also been crit­i­cal of use by wa­ter-guz­zling sug­ar­cane crops Drought Fight

The Economic Times - - Economy - Jayashree.Bhos­ale @times­group.com

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

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