The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to direct the Maharashtra government to completely cut water supply to distilleries and breweries in the drought-hit regions of the state.
Pulling up activist petitioner Sanjay Bhaskarrao Kale for approaching the apex court for a complete ban on water supply to the liquor manufacturers, a vacation bench headed by Justice Prafulla C Pant said these matters are primarily policy matters and any interference by the judiciary would amount to taking over governance, especially when the Bombay High Court is hearing the matter.
“Why are you coming against an interim order of the high court? The high court has already allowed 60%, now what do you want? These are all policy decisions. There has to be a balance,” the bench said.
Contending that the entire region is severely drought-prone, Kale had moved the SC seeking widening of the scope of the HC’s interim order that had granted partial relief to him.
Striking a balance between the needs of the people for drinking water and the needs of the industry, the Aurangabad bench of Bombay HC had last month asked the Maharashtra government to cut water supply to distilleries and breweries in Aurangabad by 60% and to other industrial units in Marathwada by 25% from May 10. These cuts will be effective till June 27 as per the HC order.
Aurangabad in Marathwada has 16 distilleries and breweries, including those of global firms like SabMiller and Carlsberg and local brands like Kingfisher and Khajuraho.
Citing urgency of the situation in Maharashtra, Kale said almost 114 million people in the state were suffering owing to acute water shortage and there is a limited water stock available.
He said human needs must take precedence over the needs of the industry because the right to access to drinking water is fundamental to life and there is a duty cast on the state to provide clean drinking water to its citizens.