Village Fights Coca-Cola to Preserve Water
Plachimada (Kerala): It's the summer time and cold drinks are considered
to be the best way to quench your thirst. But the thirst is being
quenched by taking somebody's water. A major soft drink company, Coca-Cola,
is caught in a major controversy here over using ground water.
After the ruling of the state High Court permitting the Coca Cola
drink making unit to draw ground water again, villagers here are preparing
to approach the Supreme Court in continuation of their three year
long protest against the cola company.
Kerala High Court last week passed an order that allowed the factory
to draw 500,000 litres of water per day.
Villagers, who have been sitting on a protest for the past 1086 days,
say that the decision would not only worsen the water scarcity situation
in the region but would also pose health hazards.
Viliodu Venugopal, President of the Anti Coca Cola struggle committee,
said that since their protest have not been paid heed to, they would
appeal to the Supreme Court.
"Our next step would be to appeal (to Supreme Court) to stay the Kerala
High Court order directing the renewal of the coke plant license.
Even though the court had given the direction to renew the license,
the power is vested with the panchayat president," Venugopal said.
Protesters said that around 60,000 people were adversely affected
due to the plant.
"Our farming activities had been completely affected after the coke
company started to function here. Moreover, the entire groundwater
had got polluted. We want this coke factory to be removed immediately.
Already we have suffered a huge loss in farming business. Now, for
the past one year the company is closed due to cancellation of license
and due to this the groundwater has slightly improved," said Arumugam,
In December 2004, a single bench of Kerala High Court had ordered
Coca-cola to find alternate source of water for its high production
Soft drink companies in the country have been facing a tough time.
Protests had engulfed the country when a New Delhi-based NGO Centre
for Science and Environment (CSE) reported that Coca Cola and other
soft drinks contained pesticide residues beyond permissible limits.India
with its over a billion population offers a huge market for soft drinks.
Coke, which was asked to leave the country by Janata Dal government
in 1977, has invested close to 1 billion dollars here. Rival Pepsi,
which made its debut in India in 1989, has also invested 1.5 billion
NGOs say that these cola majors don't follow strict quality guidelines
and are making huge profits paying no attention to environmental and
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