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Distilleries overexploiting water in Kerala (Relevant for GS Mains Paper III)

Though Palakkad is the worst-drought affected district in the State, it suffers at hands of  water guzzling enterprises at concessional tariff in the Kanjikode industrial belt. They include two major plants manufacturing beer and distilled spirit meant for alcoholic beverages.

The problem
 
A huge portion of the drinking water stored at Kerala’s largest reservoir, Malampuzha, is being diverted to these units.

According to the official data
1.    Data received by Right to Information (RTI) activist, liquor manufacturing major UB Distilleries alone gets 5 lakh litres of treated drinking water on a daily basis from Malampuzha reservoir at discounted tariff and that too by using the supply chain of Kerala Water Authority (KWA).
2.     Liquor manufacturer MP Distilleries gets 33,000 litres of treated drinking water from the reservoir daily at discounted tariff.
3.     The local community says these two liquor manufacturers had caused drinking water scarcity in the locality along with Pepsico India’s bottling plant that allegedly draws nearly 6.5 to 15 lakh litres of groundwater a day in the place of the permission granted to fetch 2.4 lakh litres of ground water daily.

Contradictions in use of water
Liquor barons have free access round the clock to the water resources of the region while the drinking water supply in the region is limited to just one hour a day. 
Interestingly, the RTI reply given by the regional office of KWA confirms that there was no formal agreement between the State government agency and managements of UB Distilleries and MP Distilleries over round-the-clock supply of drinking water for industrial use.
Further, the plunder of water resources is happening in an area where the District Collector ordered a complete stoppage of irrigation water for paddy farms.

Other issues
Other than exploiting Malampuzha reservoir, Distilleries are also accused of operating huge illegal borewells.
 



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