With the drought situation in Maharashtra worsening day by day and the storage in dams hitting a low, the state government is mulling bringing in a law making it mandatory for industries to use recycled water.
As part of steps to mitigate the crisis, state Industries Minister Subhash Desai has also instructed the Maharashtra Industries Development Corporation (MIDC) to study the feasibility of raising the height of dams, desilting and deepening of lakes.
A 20 per cent water cut for breweries and 10 per cent reduction in supply for other units had already been clamped in the parched Aurangabad district in Marathwada region, which has a string of water intensive sugar mills and distillaries.
“We are mulling initiating long-term measures like increasing the height of MIDC dams and making recycled water mandatory for industries by amending the MIDC Act, 1961,” Desai told .
“The industry department will also take up a project to raise height of dams and deepen lakes and canals to preserve drinking water,” he said.
On the acute water crisis in the state, especially in Marathwada, he said there are 62 cooperative and private sugar mills in the parched region and also many liquor distilleries in Aurangabad district.
“There are more sugar mills and distilleries in Marathwada that guzzle up water in a region which is known to face acute water scarcity. In order to produce 1 kg of sugar, apart from sugarcane, you require 2500 litres of water. When you consider lakhs of tonnes of sugar being produced by these mills and the lakh metric tonnes of produce that is exported…you are actually exporting that much lakh litres of water,” Desai said.
He, however, said though drinking water is of utmost importance, industries too are vital as they provide employment to lakhs of people.
Out of 11 major irrigation dams in the state, seven have zero percentage of stock left.
According to Maharashtra Water Resources Department data for the week ending April 15, only three per cent of water stock is available in all the 814 major, medium and minor irrigation projects in the Marathwada region