Save water: Sugar industry needs to be more responsible

Sugar factories consume fresh water to meet their process requirements which is drawn from natural resources, generally bore wells. With few exceptions, fresh water drawl remains quite high being in the range of 20 to 50 litres/ ton of sugarcane crushed despite the fact that sugarcane itself contains around 70% water which becomes available during processing. Indian sugar industry since crushes sugarcane @ 300-325 MMT per annum, the quantities of fresh water used by the industry can be very well imagined.

There is dire need to address this issue considering the fact that water stress levels i.e. ratio of human water demand to availability are going to be extremely high in the country by 2050. India, the largest ground water user, is seeing levels declining across the country with many states facing the prospects of having no ground water left for irrigation by 2025. Country is on the brink of worst ever water crisis in its history with about 600 million people facing acute water shortage, said Prof. Narendra Mohan, Former Director, National Sugar Institute, Kanpur, India.

Looking to the projections that about 40% of the Indian population will live in urban areas by 2030, the average water supply by the local municipal bodies which is at present is only half of the requirement is likely to worsen further and 30 cities e.g. Mumbai, Lucknow, Indore, Bengaluru, Jaipur, Srinagar, Amritsar, Pune, Nagpur and Surat etc. to face grave water risk due to sharp increase in population and depleting natural water resources. The adverse effects of global warming and climate change are further aggravating the situation. Everyday print and electronic media is reporting all such issues including decreasing water levels in reservoirs in some of the states with water scarcity becoming now a “National Issue” added Prof. Mohan.

Unfortunately, majority of the sugar factories are not sincere in their approach on water conservation & reducing fresh water requirement. They prefer to invest on which can give them returns in monetary terms rather than on such matters which are considered non-productive by them. They have to understand that effort in this direction is in the larger interest of society and for whomsoever living on this planet. For this purpose, you cannot evaluate the “Return on Investment” in monetary terms but to take up the issue as responsible industry stressed Prof. Mohan.

Water conservation is not a rocket science and it needs more of attitude than technology. Sticking to basic principles of reduce, reuse, recycle and respect can make a significant change in the situation, said Prof. Mohan. There are examples where the sugar factories have managed their operations without taking any water from outside. It is all about following the basics, adopting “Efficient Condensate Conservation & Water Management” and best available technology. Measurement of water at various consumption points is utmost importance as unless it is measured, no improvement strategy can be planned, said Prof. Mohan.


  1. Agriculture Produce only Sugar Cane is available at the rate of RS 3:50 per kg in Our Country where as other Agri products from Chillies to vegitables are more than RS 10 to 25 per kg .. Farmers are great for which we have to thank them forever.


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