Breweries in Aurangabad region, one of the main industrial clusters of Maharashtra, have to brace for a 50 per cent water cut from Wednesday, to be increased to 60 per cent post-May 10, as per directions of the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court that were given considering the severe drought in the region.
The water cut will help the government save 3.12 million litres of water per day (mld), a fraction of the overall requirement of 250 mld of drinking water in Aurangabad, for which there is a provision for the next 120 days even without an industrial cut, an official from the state water resources department said.
Aurangabad’s 11 breweries were already facing a 20 per cent water cut, which was increased to 30 per cent last week following protests from farmer groups and politicians opposing water supply to the liquor industry during a drought. Besides the eleven breweries and distilleries, the Bombay High Court has ordered a 25 per cent cut for other industries in the belt, up from the current 20 per cent.
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As per figures from the department, breweries in Aurangabad, including major brands such as Fosters, Carlsberg and Kingfisher, together require 5.207 mld water.
Ashish Garde, president, Chamber of Marathwada Industries and Agriculture, said, “The cut is more symbolic. At the moment, there is no proper plan of even transporting water saved from industries to any surrounding village in dire need. In the last 3-4 years, industries have adopted measures and invested in technology to function with less water, and a marginal reduction of 10-20 per cent would have helped industries run smoothly, but such a huge water cut will have a direct impact on production.”
He added that while there haven’t been any layoffs till now, such a steep water cut may impact direct and indirect jobs in the coming days.
Swadheen Kshatriya, state chief secretary, said, “We are facing an unprecedented situation where there have been four consecutive droughts. But we hope this is only transitional, and there will be a good monsoon as experts have predicted. Till then, we are focusing on making treated sewage water available for industries.”
In Aurangabad itself, the government has decided to increase sewage treatment capacity, currently at 163 mld, to be able to supply at least 100 mld of treated sewage water to cater to the industrial demand in the belt and is preparing to float a tender soon, a senior industries department official said.
Officials are also worried that the cuts will dent the government’s efforts at showcasing Aurangabad as an attractive investment destination with upcoming mega industrial parks of Shendra and Bidkin being developed as nodes of the ambitious Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC). The district, part of the parched Marathwada region, has six main industrial areas, the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) estates at Aurangabad, Chikalthana, Waluj, Khuldabad, Vaijapur, Shendra and Paithan. As per an MIDC report last November, the entire Marathwada division has 6,174 industrial units and a gross domestic product of Rs 1.3 lakh crore.
The breweries and distilleries in Aurangabad employ 3,560 people and pay a yearly excise duty of Rs 3,472.76 crore to the state government, with a cumulative production of 382.04 million litres, as per state government data. Besides six breweries — Skoi Breweries, Aurangabad Breweries, Fosters India Ltd, Lilasons Industries, Carlsberg India Pvt Ltd, and Millennium Beer, a subsidiary of United Breweries — Aurangabad district has beverage units of Pepsico India at Paithan, Indo European Breweries at Waluj, and three country liquor manufacturing units at Chikalthana and Shendra.