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Mumbai: The Aurangabad bench of Bombay high court on Tuesday asked the Maharashtra government to cut water supply to distilleries and breweries in Aurangabad by 60% from 10 May. The court asked the state to also cut supply to other industrial units in Marathwada by 25% after 10 May. These water cuts will be effective till 27 June, the court said. The court was hearing a petition filed by Aurangabad-based social activists and lawyers.

Last week, the Aurangabad divisional commissionerate had cut water supply to distilleries and breweries by 25% and other industries by 20%, following protest by farmers and political parties against water supply to the liquor industry in the region.

The court has extended this and said that water supply to the liquor industry must be cut by 60% and by 25% for other industries.

Aurangabad in Marathwada has 16 distilleries and breweries, including those of global firms like SabMiller and Carlsberg and local brands like Kingfisher and Khajuraho.

According to Ashish Garde, president of the Chamber of Marathwada Industries and Agriculture, all industrial units in Marathwada get nearly 4 million litres of water per day from the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corp. In March this year, the Maharashtra government’s water resources department had effected 20% in water supply to industries.

Last week, political parties, including the Shiv Sena, which is part of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led ruling alliance in Maharashtra, had protested against water supply to the liquor industry.

However, Maharashtra rural development minister Pankaja Munde, who is from the drought-hit Beed district in Marathwada, had opposed reduced water supply to the liquor industry on the grounds that the distilleries and breweries were getting their supply from the quota allotted for industrial consumption. Other ministers in the state government, including water resources minister Girish Mahajan, favoured a drastic cut in water supply. Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray even called for complete stoppage of water supply to the liquor industry.

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