Asia & Australia

March 03, 2017

Coke, Pepsi To Utilize Thamirabarani River Water

coca cola, pepsi

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court said that companies engaged in bottling soft drinks and packaged drinking water for Coca-Cola and Pepsi can use water from river Thamirabarani.

The court had dismissed two PILs filed against the supply of Thamirabarani river water to Coke and Pepsi. The order also removed an interim stay passed by the court in November 2016, banning the co-packers for Pepsi and Coca-Cola from using the river water for their bottling plant.

In the order, a division bench comprising Justices A. Selvam and P. Kalaiyarasan charged one of the petitioners, D.A. Prabakar, Secretary of Tirunelveli District Consumer Protection Association, for approaching the court with vested interests.

However, the court noted people’s anguish against the government for not taking steps to improve the irrigation system from last 70 years to avoid surplus outflow of Thamirabarani river water into the sea.

The managing director of South India Bottling Co. Pvt. Ltd, co-packer for Coca-Cola Co., informed the court that Prabakar, who was dealing with the company’s cases for nearly three years, was removed from service for unethical practices. Since then, he had been filing petitions against them before various forums and in the National Green Tribunal, south zone, to settle personal grievances.

Prathishta Business Solution Pvt. Ltd, co-packer for Pepsi-Cola Co. and South India Bottling Co., were operating on 30 acres each in Gangaikondan SIPCOT industrial area after signing a contract for 99 years with the state government. The government agreed to supply nine lakh liters and 15 lakh liters, respectively, of water daily to the two companies at a rate of Rs 37.50 per 1,000 liters.

Prabakar and DMK MLA Appavu filed the two PILs in court, demanding a ban on the supply of Thamirabarani water as the river was the only source for drinking and agriculture purposes in five southern districts. The petitioners said that the firms paid a paltry sum for using water while their products were priced high.

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