IPL Will Use ZERO Percent of the Water That Sugarcane Does - Vivek Kaul's Diary
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IPL Will Use ZERO Percent of the Water That Sugarcane Does

Apr 12, 2016

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The Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) is where politicians from across party lines come together. And given this, you don't expect it to be the most transparent and fair institution going around. Over and above this, the BCCI also has monopolistic tendencies. Hence, in most situations I would not support BCCI on an issue.

Nevertheless, the entire issue of moving the Indian Premier League (IPL) T20 cricket tournament out of the state of Maharashtra, in order to save water, is basically nonsense. The real issue when it comes to a water crisis in Maharashtra is the agricultural production of sugarcane and not IPL. Allow me to explain.

Take a look at the following chart.

Chart-1.2: State-wise Shares in Production of Sugarcane and Sugar

Maharashtra is the second largest producer of sugarcane in the country after Uttar Pradesh. It is also the largest producer of sugar, which is a by-product of sugarcane. Maharashtra produces more sugar than Uttar Pradesh primarily because the sugarcane produced in the state has a higher sucrose content. In fact, among all states, Maharasthra has the highest sugar recovery rate of 11.1% from sugarcane.

Getting back to the issue of water and sugarcane. As TN Ninan writes in The Turn of the Tortoise "Nationally, the bulk of the water is used for agriculture...Cropping patters have developed such that water-intensive crops are grown in water-scare areas-like [rice] paddy in Haryana and sugar cane in Maharashtra."

In fact, Maharashtra uses a lot more water to produce sugarcane than other states like Bihar. As the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices(CACP) points out in a document titled Price Policy for Sugarcane-2015-16 Sugar Season: "Water productivity analysis shows that Bihar consumes just 822 litres of water to produce a kilogram of sugar compared to over 2100 litres in Maharashtra, and more than 2200 litres each in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Thus, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu consume an additional 1300 to 1400 litres of water over and above what it takes Bihar to produce a kilogram of sugar."

Andhra Pradesh produces only 4% of India's sugarcane, so it doesn't really matter much, if it is a water guzzler. Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu between them produce nearly one-third of India's sugarcane (22% of Maharashtra and 10% for Tamil Nadu). Given that they use a huge amount of water doing so, this shouldn't be the case.

As CACP further points out in the case of Maharashtra: "In Maharashtra, sugarcane cultivation, which is on less than 4 percent of the total cropped area of the state, takes away almost 70 percent of irrigation water in the state. This leads to massive inequity in the use of water within the state."

As mentioned earlier, it takes 2100 litres of water to produce one kilogram of sugar in Maharashtra. This basically means that it will take around 2100000 litres or 2.1 million litres of water to produce one tonne or 1000 kilograms of sugar.

It is estimated that the twenty IPL cricket matches being played in Maharashtra would end up using six million litres of water. How has this estimate been arrived at? A public interest litigation has been filed in the Bombay High Court stating that IPL cricket matches should be moved out of Maharashtra.

Ankita Verma, the lawyer for the petitioners told Rediff.com: "International maintenance for pitch guidelines state that for each match you need three lakh litres of water for one ground. If you multiply that for the 20 matches that will be played here, you will come to the figure of 60 lakh litres [or 6 million litres] of water."

The BCCI puts the number at four million litres, reports Mint. Let's take the higher of the two numbers of six million litres of water. As mentioned earlier, it takes 2.1 million litres of water to grow one tonne of sugarcane. Hence, for IPL the total water being used is what would have been good enough to produce less than three tonnes of sugarcane, actually 2.86 tonnes to be very precise.

Hence, the entire argument of IPL cricket matches leading to a wastage of water is basically nonsense. Sugarcane is the real water guzzler in the state of Maharashtra. In 2013-2014, the state produced 75,384,000 tonnes of sugarcane, which would have needed around 158,306,400 million litres of water (75,384,000 x 2.1).

On the other hand, IPL this year will end up using six million litres of water, which would essentially be good enough to produce three tonnes of sugarcane.

So the total amount of water used by IPL will be around 0.0000038%(6.1 million litres expressed as a percentage of 158,306,400 million litres) of the water used to produce sugarcane in Maharashtra in 2013-2014. The proportion is so small that we can even round it off to 0%. This entire argument to move IPL out of Maharashtra is basically nonsense. The real issue is the production of sugarcane in the state.

Of course, no noise is being made against the excessive consumption of water in the production of sugarcane primarily because some of the bigger politicians of the state of Maharashtra are also sugar barons.

There are other issues also that need to be discussed here. India produces much more sugarcane than it consumes. The CACP estimates that the total demand for sugar in India (domestic demand plus bulk demand) is at 24.3 million tonnes. The domestic demand being 12.3 million tonnes and the bulk demand being 12 million tonnes.

In 2014-2015, India produced around 28 million tonnes of sugar. This is 3.7 million tonnes more than demand. This excess sugar is exported. We need to realise that when we export sugar, we are essentially exporting water. As Ninan points out: "Growing sugar cane, even more water hungry than[rice] paddy, in water-scarce Maharashtra is equally contraindicated-especially since the country happens to be surplus in sugar most of the time, and exporting sugar amounts to exporting water."

And a country as water-constrained as India is, should not be exporting water. To conclude, as CACP points out: "Future growth of cane in Maharashtra is likely to be severely hampered by scarce water supplies unless much of sugarcane is put on drip irrigation or varieties are evolved that use less water. Given that sugarcane is a water guzzling crop, its long term development must ensure that water pricing policies are formulated in a manner that reflects its scarcity." And this is something worth thinking about.

Disclosure: The basic idea for writing this column came after reading Sunil Jain's column titled IPL vs sugarcane: That's really the equation in Maharashtra in The Financial Express.

Vivek Kaul is the Editor of the Diary and The Vivek Kaul Letter. Vivek is a writer who has worked at senior positions with the Daily News and Analysis (DNA) and The Economic Times, in the past. He is the author of the Easy Money trilogy. The latest book in the trilogy Easy Money: The Greatest Ponzi Scheme Ever and How It Is Set to Destroy the Global Financial System was published in March 2015. The books were bestsellers on Amazon. His writing has also appeared in The Times of India, The Hindu, The Hindu Business Line, Business World, Business Today, India Today, Business Standard, Forbes India, Deccan Chronicle, The Asian Age, Mutual Fund Insight, Wealth Insight, Swarajya, Bangalore Mirror among others.

Disclaimer: The views mentioned above are of the author only. Data and charts, if used, in the article have been sourced from available information and have not been authenticated by any statutory authority. The author and Equitymaster do not claim it to be accurate nor accept any responsibility for the same. The views constitute only the opinions and do not constitute any guidelines or recommendation on any course of action to be followed by the reader. Please read the detailed Terms of Use of the web site.

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21 Responses to "IPL Will Use ZERO Percent of the Water That Sugarcane Does"

Rama Rao

Apr 17, 2016

1. As pointed out by another reader, Mr. Vivek has mixed the figures of water consumption for sugarcane production and for sugar production.. His analysis will make sense when he gives the break up of water consumption between sugarcane production and sugar production..

2. Sugarcane and sugarcane juice (and Jaggery) are beneficial / healthy when consumed. Hence i fully support the production of these.

3. Sugar is not a healthy (rather a harmful) product to be consumed. The incentive to produce sugar are varied and the availability of loans to promoters (irrespective of it becoming NPAs) and the by products (alcohol) are cashcows for the powerful owners. Yet this is produced over and above the market demands for obvious reasons.

4. Vivek i think u should also touch the production of non beneficial (rather i believe harmful) products like carbonated drinks etc which consume huge water and also harm peoples health. Will appreciate your touching this subject of useless consumption of water for producing carbonated drinks. After all a doctor ( ayurvedic or otherwise) will recommend drinking sugarcane juice when suffering from jaundice. No doctor will ever recommend a carbonated drink for a good result.



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Ravi shah

Apr 15, 2016

Dear Vivek
If using 70% water for sugar irrigation is sensless than conducting IPL matches are bigger nonsense.Just to fill the pockets of sponsers,ad-agency,BCCI,fixers, should the matches be allowed? IPL is just wastage of Money,time and water.Is it necessary that we must play for 12 months and waste nations'precious working hours?

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Hemakshi Patel

Apr 13, 2016

The entire issue of moving the Indian Premier League (IPL) T20 cricket tournament out of the state of Maharashtra in order to save water is basically nonsense. If you notice one thing in common in Maharashtra is if tankers can get water, why not the government. And where exactly do tankers get water from? We need to find out this first. And Why is there no water supply to the people of Latur?

Maharashtra is the second largest producer of sugarcane in the country after Uttar Pradesh. It is also the largest producer of sugar, which is a by-product of sugarcane. Maharashtra produces more sugar than Uttar Pradesh primarily because the sugarcane produced in the state has a higher sucrose content. In fact, among all states, Maharashtra has the highest sugar recovery rate from sugarcane. Water intensive crops are grown in water scare areas like sugar cane in Maharashtra.

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Alex

Apr 13, 2016

It doesn't make a huge difference to the final value, but there seems to be a mix-up between Sugar and Sugarcane in the calculation shown above.
2.1 million litres of water to produce one tonne of SUGAR (as shown in para 8) and then in the subsequent calculation, the total production of SUGARCANE is taken to arrive at the total water used up.

Like (1)

Inder Chadha

Apr 13, 2016

Good article. Shows how irrelevant some of these armchair activists are. I sometimes feel that they are funded by outside antinational forces. (Some investigations by IB have revealed that)
The sugarcane cropping pattern needs to be relooked into.

Like (1)

Deepak M. Padher

Apr 13, 2016

This is foolish comparison.
This is comparison between productive things and non-productive things.

It is like this suppose - In a family, one person earning and one person is not earning at all but spending only. This article says that the person earning is spending much on conveyance, which he has to do to reach his work-place.

The article should also give figures of how much money we get by export, how many manpower is employed in growing sugarcane, how much oxygen released by sugarcane etc etc and then how much man-power/ man hours are wasted in IPL.

Regards,

Like (1)

Mohammed Atiq

Apr 12, 2016

Ban Sugar Export.....

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Kishan Sharma

Apr 12, 2016

Well made points ! Another point in this regard that Vivek can research is that just a little over 2 decades back Bihar was one of the bigger sugar producing states. If the sugar cane cultivation in Bihar is more efficient in Bihar that in Maharashtra then why has sugar production in Bihar declined drastically over this period ? The answer to this question may be interesting.

Like (1)

Kumar

Apr 12, 2016

Vivek, you cant compare IPL and Farming in the same breath!! IPL is a waste of time and money of the public, to fil the pockets of the sponsors

Like (4)

ashok raman

Apr 12, 2016

"Of course, no noise is being made against the excessive consumption of water in the production of sugarcane primarily because some of the bigger politicians of the state of Maharashtra are also sugar barons"

If you search for "yogendra yadav water maharastra" in google, you do see references to some of your suggestions apparently made in last October. It is unfortunate that due attention is not paid to such analysis largely because (as you rightly conclude) of the politics behind it.

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