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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 45 New Delhi October 27, 2018

Water Audit of Liquor Industry is Badly Needed

Precious Drinking Water Diverted to Distilleries in Water-Scarce Areas

Sunday 28 October 2018


There have been several reports in recent times that the serious situation of drinking water scarcity is being aggravated in many areas due to the liquor industry.

A report in India Today (October 15, 2010) by Kiran Tare on the serious water scarcity in Marathwada region says: “Indiscriminate release of water for sugarcane cultivation and alcohol production has depleted the (water) reservoirs. There are some 200 distilleries in Aurangabad, which use enormous quantities of potable water.”

The two are related as sugurcane provides raw material for many distilleries.

In other areas water situation in threatened by fast increase in wine production and the increase in grapes production to feed wine units with raw material. The prestigious Economist journal reported some time back that 960 litres of water are used for one litre of wine. From Punjab as well as from other areas there are reports of very high pollution of rivers and water sources due to the effluents released by distilleries.

What is the total impact of these two aspects —diversion of huge quantities of potable water to distilleries (as well as for the availability of their raw material) and the pollution of various water sources by effluents released by distilleries? The continued impact of these should be assessed in well-planned water audits of increasing liquor production.

At present India leads the world in liquor consumption. Alcohol consumption more than doubled in India between 2005 and 2016. According to WHO projections for year 2025, the increase of liquor consumption from 2005 to 2025 will be between three to four times in India. The discussion so far has been on on the disastrous health and social impact of this increase. We also need to know the water impact.

The liquor industry is also known to have huge implications for greenhouse gas emissions. People living around distilleries have to bear very foul smell. From various points of view, the alcohol industry is a disaster for environment.

Bharat Dogra

C-27 Raksha Kunj,
Paschim Vihar,
New Delhi-110063

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