SC to hear plea to stop water supply to Maharashtra liquor units

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New Delhi, May 16 (IANS) The Supreme Court will hear next week a plea seeking complete stoppage of water supply to the liquor industry in Maharashtra in the wake of acute water scarcity in the state.

A vacation bench of Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre and Justice Ashok Bhushan agreed to hear the plea next week after an advocate mentioned the matter before it, seeking this supply be instead made available for drinking purposes.

Petitioner Sanjay Bhaskarrao Kale has questioned the order of the Aurangabad bench of Bombay High Court which had in an interim order in a PIL said that balance has to be struck in the matter of supply of water for drinking as well as industrial purposes, asking whether the high court was right.

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Seeking 100 percent cut in the supply of water to breweries, distilleries and other related industries, he said that requirement of water for human consumption could not be juxtaposed with the requirement of industry and balancing the two.

The petitioner said that the right to access to drinking water is fundamental to life and there is a duty cast on the state under article 21 to provide clean drinking water to its citizens.

Confining his challenge to the high court directing 60 percent cut in supply of water to breweries, distilleries and other related industries, he said that he was not contesting other findings in the order.

The plea assumes significance as the Supreme Court had earlier upheld the Bombay High Court order banning the hosting of IPL matches, including in Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur.

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Pointing to the huge quantity of water being used by the liquor industry for the production of liquor, Kale says that liquor industry was consuming 60 Thousand Million Cubic Feet (TMC) of water coupled with an unauthorised lifting of 30 TMC of water – many times more than the 20 TMC of water consumed for drinking purposes in the state’s cities every year.

Noting that there were only 454,772 people holding licence for consumption/possession/transport of liquor in Maharashtra, he argued that a bulk of the 86,71,40,565 litres of alcohol produced in the state was being exported.



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