Protests Against Proposed Coca-Cola Plant in Gangaikondan
TIRUNELVELI: Soft drink major Coca Cola continues to generate adverse
publicity. The MNC was in the eye of a storm at Plachimada in Palakkad
district of Kerala, where there was stiff opposition to its bottling
The focus has now shifted to Gangaikondan, where a Coca Cola production
unit is fast coming up. The local CPM unit is already up in arms against
the unit, alleging it would deplete the water table in the region.
The South India Bottling Company (P) Ltd would be producing the soft
drink, on a formula provided by Coke, at its unit in the Industrial
Growth Centre of State Industrial Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu
(SIPCOT) at Gangaikondan, 15 km from here.
The CPM district committee organised a protest demonstration on Wednesday,
demanding a halt to the MNCís arrival in Tirunelveli district.
The unit covers an area of around 32 acres inside the SIPCOT complex,
spread over an area of 2,500 acres in Gangaikondan on the Tirunelveli-Madurai
Highway. The lease period for companies coming up in the complex is
99 years. SIPCOT has promised to supply 45 lakh litres of water per
day to these companies. The Coke unit alone will get 5 lakh litres
everyday. The water will be drawn from the Tamiraparani river in Seevalaperi,
some 14 km from the site.
Three infiltration wells have been sunk in the Tamiraparani river
bed and a pump room has also been built. The pipelines have already
been laid for drawing the requisite 45 lakh litres of water to the
SIPCOT complex. A sump has been constructed nearby for storing the
But the CPM opposition stems from the apprehension that the company
will indiscriminately extract ground water and suck the region dry.
CITU district secretary R. Karumalayan said: "The track record of
Coca Cola in India is not encouraging. Moreover, several parts of
Tirunelveli already face drinking water problems and if the company
is to draw 5 lakh litres of water from the Tamiraparani river as proposed,
the region is sure to face severe water crisis in the future."
Tamiraparani is the source for the Kovilpatti drinking water scheme,
TWAD Board schemes and the supply of drinking water for places like
Sattur in Virdhunagar district. Some private companies also draw water
from the river. Those who support the Coke project argue that the
Tamiraparani is a perennial source of water. Besides, only the excess
water is being drawn by SIPCOT. "As per rules, none of the industries
coming up in the SIPCOT complex will be permitted to pump groundwater.
There will be no exception in the case of Coke," said sources. Karumalayan,
however, says that such assurances will not last long. Things are
bound to change for the worse once the unit starts functioning.
Though the Rs 30-crore automated unit is not expected to generate
much employment opportunities, it is said that the company will give
preference to the locals for jobs. This will benefit the people of
Thurayur, Aladipatti, Venkatachalapuram and Madathur.
D.S.M. Jayarajan, president of the Tirunelveli District Small and
Tiny Industries Association, said, "Such companies contribute to the
industrial development of the region, but sufficient safeguards should
be put in place to ensure that groundwater is not exploited at any
- SIPCOT to supply 45 lakh litres of water per day
- The Coke unit alone will get 5 lakh litres
- The CPM fears Tamiraparani river will be sucked dry
- SIPCOT says only excess water will be drawn
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