Pune: The sugarcane cultivation continues to increase in the state despite the 26 districts out of 36 districts facing the drought-like situation. In Maharashtra, cane cultivation takes place on less than 4 per cent of the total cropped area in the state and consumes 70 per cent of the state’s irrigation water.
According to the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP), to produce 1 kg of sugar, 2,515 litres of water is used. When we take a glance at the situation in rural areas of Aurangabad, people pay Rs 1000 to get 2,500 litres of tanker water for household use which equals to the water required to produce 1 kg sugar.
This year 26.96 trillion litres of water is used to produce 1071.94 lakh quintals of sugar by 195 sugar mills in Maharashtra.
The drought-like situation persists in 26 out of 36 districts in the state, but the cane cultivation continues to increase producing excess sugar surpassing last year’s production.
The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has noted that the sugarcane crop as a water-intensive crop requires huge amount of water for cultivation. In Marathwada, only 5 per cent of water is left in dams and the region’s 47 sugar mills crushed 167.35 lakh million tonnes of sugarcane.
In Solapur district, the region is grappling with drinking water but 44 sugar mills crushed 203.50 lakh MT of sugarcane.
Of the 195 mills that were operational this year, 48 per cent were from private sector belonging to politicians who encourage farmers to cultivate sugarcane crop.
The CACP 2017-18 report suggests using drip irrigation to reduce the use of water for cane cultivation.
The state government has made compulsory drip irrigation for cane cultivation, but neither mills nor farmers have responded to it.