MUMBAI: Maharashtra may be dealing with the worst water scarcity this year, but curiously, liquor consumption in such districts have actually skyrocketed.
A case in point is Marathwada where water scarcity has peaked with all water bodies going dry. Yet, production and consumption of liquor has gone up this year.
Water supply minister Babanrao Lonikar said, as of June 3, a total of 6,443 tankers were engaged in supplying drinking water to 5,127 villages and 10,867 hamlets in the state.
Of these 3,359 tankers were concentrated in 2,374 villages and 803 hamlets in Marathwada region alone.
Excise minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule said the state government earned record revenue of Rs 25,323 crore through excise and sales tax on liquor the last fiscal with a 16.5% increase from liquor industries in water deficient16.5%.
Excise revenue from the eight water scarce districts of Marathwada was Rs 4,916 crore-a result of the 12% increase in hard liquor production and sale, besides 14% increase in beer sale which earned an additional Rs 687 crore.
The Marathwada liquor industry is centered in Aurangabad. Of the five major companies that make Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL), only two registered a minuscule decrease in production.
Industry sources said the amount of water supplied to the water-intensive liquor industries in the three industrial areas is less than 5%.
At the Shendra, Chikalthana and Walunj industrial areas near Aurangabad, the installed capacity of water supply is 72 MLD.
However, due to scarcity, it is currently 63 MLD of which 10 MLD is used for the Walunj industrial area and 5 MLD for Shendra industrial area. Parts of Aurangabad city and 14 municipalities too get water supply from the same installed source.
Industries that don’t require water as their raw material use 33 MLD of water while the liquor industry gets to use about 2.5 to 3 MLD water, claimed MIDC officials at Aurangabad.
The industries that use water as raw material are charged at Rs 55,000 per thousand litres. However, water conservationists and environmentalists question the rationale of using up 7-8 litre of water to make 1-litre beer in this parched area of the state.
Last year the state government had cut down the water supply to the liquor industry.
Himachal gets rain relief as rest of India sizzles
While the rest of India continues to sizzle, people of Himachal Pradesh got some respite from the scorching heat as light rains lashed isolated parts of the state on Tuesday, the Met Department said. The maximum temperatures decreased by around 2 degrees.
Shimla and Kufri were lashed by 8 mm rains each. Shimla recorded a maximum temperature of 30.5 degrees Celsius, while Manali and Dalhousie 22 degrees Celsius each. There were reports of mild snowfall in Lahaul and Spiti.
Rain is also likely to occur in several parts of the state on June 12. However, heatwave conditions in other parts of north and central India continued unabated. The maximum temperature hovered close to 45 degrees Celsius at most places in Punjab and Haryana.
Delhi recorded a high of 44.5 degrees Celsius, five notches above the season’s average.
The maximum temperature in most parts of Rajasthan remained near or above 45 degrees Celsius. Churu remained the hottest place in the desert state at 47.3 degrees Celsius.