Can there be some link between beer and dolphins? The world's best known distillers - Molson-Coors and Cobra - have not only set up a joint venture to set up a brewery plant for the manufacture of beer in Patna's outskirts in Bihar, but are also working at plans to create awareness to save the gangetic dolphins.
Of the small number of 2500-odd of these fresh water dolphins that survive in South Asia, a substantial number (estimated 1500) are said to live in the river-bed of the Ganga that courses along Bihar's cities including Bhagalpur, Patna and Gaya.
Ganga pollution caused by the indiscriminate dumping of fertilizers, pesticides and industrial effluents are threatening the survival of these rare species of dolphins – India's national aquatic animal.
"Our business venture in Bihar is not just about creating opportunities and jobs. It is also about addressing environmental and social concerns," Lord Karan Bilimoria, member of the British House of Lords and proprietor of the Cobra Beers told HT.
"I have some plans (on saving the dolphins), which I will shortly be discussing with Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and other key members of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)," Bilimoria said.
Spin-off effects of Bilimoria's Bihar project are prospects of a multi-fold increase in the cultivation of high quality barley. Odisha has five breweries. Bihar is likely to have the double number of breweries in coming years. With increased demand, barley will evidently be a much sought after commodity. .
Bihar seems positioned as India's breweries hub, with the Molson-Coors-Cobra JV exploring possibilities of setting up more units.
Other companies wanting to set up units in the state include the United Brewaries and the Danish beer company (Carlsberg).
Beer consumption in Bihar is presently half a litre per person per year as against the India average of one and a half litres per person per year.
In China, the consumption is 35 litres per person per year – approximately twenty times higher than India. But industry estimates say that this gap will substantially reduce in the coming years.