The drought has forced a water cut on industries in Marathwada and Western Maharashtra at a time when the BJP-led state government is aggressively marketing Maharashtra as the ideal industrial destination for global investors.
The state government has imposed a 10 per cent cut on water supply to industries from dams, and is considering increasing it or even completely halting supply if the situation does not improve in September. The water cut to industries has been in place for 90 days.
A senior BJP minister, who did not wish to be named, said, “Water levels of dams in Marathwada are dipping. We stopped water supply for agriculture as the priority is drinking water. We will have to take tough decisions for industries. We hope to receive rains in September but if we don’t we might have to completely halt water supply to industries.”
Aurangabad is an important industrial centre in Marathwada where mega industrial parks of Shendra and Bidkin are being developed as nodes of the ambitious Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor. Aurangabad has 5 estates of the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC), two growth centres, and more than 3,000 small and large industrial units.
Marathwada region, comprising eight districts, had a 50 per cent deficit in rains resulting in drought. As per government data, the region’s 833 small, medium and large dam projects together have 7.8 per cent of water storage as of August 28, as compared with 22.76 per cent on the same date last year.
“Some dams have 0 per cent water storage. In Osmanabad district, all dams are dry. Agriculture has come to a halt,” said the cabinet minister.
Osmanabad’s Manjra, Sina Kolegaon and Lower Terna dams, and Beed’s Majalgaon and Bendsure dams have no water storage, he added.
The water storage in Jayakwadi dam in Aurangabad district, which supplies most industries in Marathwada a large share of their water supply, is 4 percent, said an engineer from the water resources department who did not wish to be named.
“The dam has 89 million cubic metres of water. Assuming there are no rains, this is likely to shrink to 0 by October 15. Currently, we supply 0.28 million cubic metres per day for domestic and industrial purposes,” he added.
The engineer said on an average, the dam generally supplies 150 million litres a day for Aurangabad’s domestic requirement, 50 million litres to MIDC for industrial consumption, 50 million litres a day for rural water supply and 30 million litres to neighbouring Jalna.
“After a 10 per cent water cut, supply to industries was reduced accordingly,” he added.
Bhushan Gagrani, chief executive officer at MIDC, said water cuts will mostly hit water-intensive sectors in the Aurangabad industrial belt such as breweries, textiles, distilleries and pharmaceutical companies.
In 2012, the government imposed a 30 percent water cut for 2 months due to a critical water scarcity, Gagrani said and added, “A ten percent water cut is manageable for companies that meet water requirements by procuring water from tankers and resort to measures such as downsizing production. However, one really can’t help it if the situation worsens.”