Tuesday 16 Aug 2022

Amdai locals sweat over beer plant's water needs

The Goan Network | MARCH 06, 2016, 12:00 AM IST

Photo Credits: Amdai Beer Plant - The key is where the company will get the water from

If the project report of the proposed beer plant in Amdai is to be believed, Vani Agro Farms intends on using underground sources to meet its water requirements. This has worried the villagers, who fear that their only source of water could be in jeopardy. But on the other hand, Sanguem MLA Subhash Phal Dessai has clarified that company will draw water from Salaulim Dam

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Vani Agro Farms’s ambitious beer manufacturing plant in Amdai, Sanguem will depend on underground sources of water. The Goan received a copy of the company’s project report in a reply to a Right To Information (RTI) query, where it is clearly mentioned that water can be tapped from underground sources.

The project report even states that six litres of water will be required to manufacture one litre of beer. Needless to say, the requirement of water is going to be enormous. The plant's initial capacity will be 2 lakh hectolitres of beer per year, which at a later date is expandable to 5 lakh hectolitres annually.

One hectolitre equals 100 litres. This indicates that the plant’s initial water requirement will be 1,200 lakh litres per year, and after the increase in capacity it will be up to 3,000 lakh litres of water every year.

Prakash Gaonkar, councillor of ward 10 of Sanguem Municipal Council, and resident of Amdai, revealed that the village doesn't have a single well. However, there are five natural springs in Amdai, and people use the water from these springs for their irrigational and agricultural activities.

Vani Agro Farms’s project report mentions in detail the water treatment plant and effluent treatment plant as a part of its beer factory set up, but it doesn’t make any mention about where the company will release the water that will be recycled from these plants after the beer is manufactured.

From Gaonkar’s comments, it is clear that the ecology of Amdai is rather delicate as there is not a single well, and people use spring water for irrigation. Amdai village is located on the banks of Uguem river.

Gaonkar continued, “The local scheduled tribe (ST) community consider Uguem river as holy. The river’s water is considered auspicious, and hence is used extensively in several religious and community rituals.”

Vani Agro Farms will have to ensure that its beer manufacturing plant with huge water requirements doesn’t come in the way of life of the locals. This is because there are sources of water like springs and a river in close proximity to the project, and the locals use the water from these sources for their day-to-day living.

For Vani Agro Farms, the stakes are clearly high, as the proposed beer manufacturing unit will be the Delhi-based company’s first ever manufacturing plant.

“The beer market in Goa has grown from 3 million cases in 2007-08 to 5.13 million cases in 2012-13. There are only two working breweries in the State which can’t cater to the demand of the peak beer season. Hence, the need for setting up a brewery was felt,” the project report notes.

The other two companies to own breweries in Goa are Impala Distilleries & Breweries and United Breweries. The manner in which the alcohol business in India operates is that typically alcohol factories take care of the demand of the State it is located in.

However, Vani Agro Farms has set its aim higher as its project report states that the company has decided to put up a brewery to feed the market of Goa and other neighbouring states. Vani Agro Farms is bullish on the prospects of the beer market in India.

The consumption of beer in India is growing rapidly. In the past, strong beer dominated the market, but in the last few years, new varieties such as draught and imported beer have made its mark.

Vani Agro Farms’s assessment is that the demand of beer is growing at 16-18 per cent per annum in India, and supply isn’t able to match this increasing demand, and hence they will always find it easy to find a foothold in the market.

As of now, United Breweries (Kingfisher) and SABMiller (Foster’s, Haywards 5000) control 70 per cent of the total demand in India. These companies manufacture their brands at their own breweries. Besides, they even have manufacturing tie-ups with other breweries.

Vani Agro Farms is keeping both the ways of doing business open. Its project report stated, “Other brewers who do not have a brewery in Goa are willing to have a production tie-up for their brands. However, the promoters will be launching their own brand as well.”

As of now, the company has only acquired 15 acres of land in Amdai, Sanguem and has completed the boundary wall for the project. But, there is a long way ahead for completion. The project report says that the company requires clearances from the pollution control board, directorate of health & safety, town & country planning, central and state sales tax, among others.

The project overall costs Rs 56.2 crore, and the company feels that it can be completed within a period of 15 months from the date of commencement. If the company manages to start beer manufacturing successfully, it will have its benefits too.

For one, it will help in meeting Goa’s own demand of beer, whether its from locals or on account of tourists. Two, it will help in creating employment. Sanguem is a mining belt, and since mining hasn’t started fully, this project will provide much-needed jobs.

The project report says that the total manpower requirement works to around 260 persons at ultimate capacity for the factory and the office staff.

But, locals naturally expect that all this will not come at the cost of affecting their lives. Gaonkar also said that people are strongly opposing the usage of river water for the beer plant. That is because the water level dips to alarming levels during summer.

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· Vani Agro Farms will draw water through a pipeline from Salaulim Dam, which is just two kilometres away from the project.

· The company will pay the government for using this water. Their water requirements are huge and they can’t rely on underground water.

· There will be no discharge of water from this project. So, there’s no chance of the river getting polluted. The company has acquired 65,000 sq mts of land, where they will maintain a garden using water discharged after the beer is produced.

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