India. Maharashtra govt under pressure to stop water supply to breweries in Aurangabad

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The Maharashtra government is considering a proposal to stop the supply of water to breweries and distilleries in Aurangabad district due to severe shortage of water, a senior official at the water works department said, on the condition of anonymity.

For now, the water works department decided on 17 April to cut water supply to industrial units in Marathwada by 10% and to the breweries and distilleries by 20% till 30 April. Aurangabad district collector Nidhi Pandey told PTI that the government would review the situation on 30 April and decide the future course.

The official quoted earlier said the department has asked the Aurangabad divisional commissioner to submit a report this week on allocation of water to each category of consumers, including the breweries. He admitted that the government was under immense pressure to stop water supply to the beer industry.

The opposition Congress and ruling alliance partner Shiv Sena have called for stopping supply to the beer and liquor industry in Aurangabad. On Monday, Congress workers in Aurangabad staged demonstrations against water supply to beer and liquor producing units. On Sunday, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray made a similar demand, saying supply to the beer industry could not be a priority when people were getting drinking water once every three days in large parts of Marathwada.

Ashish Garde, president of the Chamber of Marathwada Industries and Agriculture (CMIA), said all industrial units in Marathwada located on the estates developed by the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) get 4 million litres of water per day from MIDC. “This includes the breweries and distilleries. We do agree that the water situation has turned quite grave but stopping supply to industries in times of drought will be counterproductive because the industry provides jobs to people rendered jobless by drought,” Garde said. Aurangabad has 16 breweries and distilleries, including foreign brands like Carlsberg and SABMiller, and Indian brand United Breweries which produces Kingfisher beers.

The water works department official said the government was not in favour of stopping the supply. “Having said that, such demands win immediate popular support and forces the government to act, as happened in the case of IPL (Indian Premier League),” the official said. An NGO has filed a public interest litigation against holding IPL matches in drought-hit Maharashtra, claiming that watering of grounds consumed 60 lakh litres of water. Last week, the Bombay High Court asked the Board of Control for Cricket in India to move matches after 30 April out of Maharashtra.

“Manufacturing has already been hit by water cuts and there should not be any populist decisions to make it worse,” Garde said. He added that the CMIA was trying to find out how many industrial and ancillary jobs get created for consumption of every litre of water. “Even the government and people making such demands should do this data analysis,” he said.