Taking cognizance of the acute water crisis in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra, the Aurangabad Bench of the Bombay High Court on Tuesday directed the State government to authorise a 50 per cent water cut for breweries and distilleries in the area with immediate effect and a further 10 per cent cut from May 10.
It also ordered that water cuts for other industrial units be increased by five per cent from the current 20 per cent from May 20.
When people had not seen water for days, it was inhuman that breweries were guzzling the precious resource, a Bench of Justices S.S. Shinde and Santeetrao Patil said.
All industrial units in Marathwada get four million litres of water a day from the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC). The court’s decision will cover 13 districts. No fewer than 16 distilleries and breweries are located in Aurangabad, including those of SabMiller and Carlsberg.
Since the start of the month, the clamour for water cuts for breweries turned shriller. The Aurangabad district administration announced a 10 per cent water cut for industrial units and 20 per cent for breweries and distilleries a fortnight ago. The cuts steadily rose last week with the Aurangabad Divisional Commissionerate slashing supply to distilleries and breweries by 25 per cent and other industries by 20 per cent, after protests by farmers and political parties, including the ruling Shiv Sena.
The High Court had also directed the government to work out a plan to cut at least 50 per cent of the supply to liquor and beer units.
The Chamber of Marathwada Industries and Agriculture (CMIA) and the Marathwada Association of Small Scale Industries and Agriculture (MASSIA) on Monday filed a civil application in which they said the water cuts could affect the region’s economy and destroy the livelihood of nearly one lakh people.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party is divided over the issue. Rural Development Minister Pankaja Munde opposed water cuts, while Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan backed the measure.