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No water in state may mean no beer

mumbai Updated: Jan 24, 2013 01:28 IST
Dharmendra Jore

The water scarcity in central Maharashtra might hit the bar, with breweries there struggling to sustain production due to a 33% water cut as the Jaikwadi dam on river Godawari is parched.

Breweries in Aurangabad produce about 200 million litres of beer annually for popular brands. Responsible for about 75% of the state’s total brewing capacity, breweries consume about 65% of the total water supplied to industries in the region.

Beer breweries have reduced production by 7% to 40% depending on water availability, and are expected cut it further in summer. Some may even shut their operations. Already, two grain alcohol units did not work this season.

“Brewing a litre of beer requires eight litres of water,” said an industry source. “Beer or other alcoholic drinks made in Aurangabad have a unique flavour because of the rich quality of Godawari water.”

Processing industries, steel rolling mills in Jalna, pharma companies and other units in Waluj, Shendra, Paithan and Chikhalthana are also facing a 33% water cut since November 2012, hitting production.

Reduced production has led to a 37% drop in central and state tax collection from breweries. Taxes from other industries are expected to drop too. Last year, local industries paid Rs 7,065 crore in state and central taxes.

Aurangabad, one of the fasted growing towns in Asia, began its industrial ascent in the 1990s when Bajaj and Videocon began operations there. Now, it is an automobile and engineering hub and houses top brands of all other sectors. The town stunned the nation in 2010 when local entrepreneurs placed a bulk order of 150 Mercedes luxury sedans.

The Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation enforced water cuts on industries when farmers in parched villages claimed industries were being favoured. Officials said segregating supplies for drinking and for industries is impossible because water is carried through one pipeline. Sunil Raithatha, president of Chamber of Marathwada Industries and Agriculture, said industries were spending more this year on buying water from elsewhere. “We don’t want water at the cost of depriving the common man,” he said.

Commander (Retd) Anil Save, managing director of Atra Pharma in Waluj, has taken up water recycling. “All my employees have been made aware of ways to save water,” he said.