Pollution Control Board Demands Action from Coca-Cola on Water Supply and Pollution
G. Krishnakumar
The Hindu
August 26, 2004

KOCHI: The Kerala State Pollution Control Board (PCB) has decided to order the closure of 77 industrial units in the State which do not have the authorisation to operate under the Hazardous Waste Rules.

The Board's decision was taken on the basis of a recommendation made by the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee (SCMC) on hazardous waste.

The Board has also decided to order closure of 30 units for their non-compliance with the Hazardous Waste Rules. These units are currently having the authorisation to operate under the prescribed rules. The notice would be served to these units soon.

Besides these units, the PCB has decided to order the closure of 89 units for not complying with various guidelines issued by the Board earlier. The decision was taken after the Board found that these industrial units failed to abide by the rules and regulations.

The Board has recommended disconnection of power supply to these erring units in its first phase of action. The inspection teams of the Board found that most of these units were being operated illegally.

The Board found that 77 industrial units in the State had been functioning without complying with the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. An investigation conducted by the Board revealed that the companies had failed to evolve a contingency plan to minimise hazards to human health and the environment from emergency situations such as a fire or an explosion.

Water supply

The Board has ordered the units of Hindustan Coca Cola, Binani Zinc, Kerala Minerals and Metals and Hindustan Newsprint near Kottayam to supply water to residents in the vicinities of these units.

This decision was taken on the basis of the Supreme Court order on May 7, 2004, that required that water should be supplied to communities affected by industrial wastes.

The Board has ordered that water should be supplied through pipeline to all the affected communities on the basis of the committee recommendations that the present arrangement of delivering water in tankers or in a few public locations through public taps was unacceptable.

Meanwhile, the Board has decided to set up four committees under its regional offices to create a register of persons affected by the contamination of groundwater in their areas. Industrial units have been directed to install piped water supply lines for the residents in the vicinity of the industrial units.

The Board will prepare an action plan on water supply within two weeks. The entire process of setting up pipelines in the areas nearby the units will be completed within six months.

Panel unconvinced

The Supreme Court committee had mentioned in its report that Hindustan Coca Cola unit at Plachimada, near Palakkad was unable to convince it about the source of the toxic heavy metals found in the sludge from the factory.

The committee members who tasted the ground water had expressed doubts about its quality. The committee had directed the PCB to ensure that the sludge dumped by the factory outside its walls should be retrieved and placed within the new landfill being constructed by the company.

The committee found that both the Pepsi and Coca Cola plants had been drawing ground water without paying any charges.

The Committee has directed both the companies to install reverse osmosis systems to ensure that the public water used for effluent treatment is returned to its original condition for re-use within six months.

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