State of Kerala Challenges Coca-Cola's Right to Extract Water
State Justifies Village Council Action Against Coca-Cola
New Delhi: The Kerala Government on Wednesday filed a special leave
petition (SLP) challenging a judgment of the Kerala High Court allowing
Coca-Cola to draw five lakh litres of groundwater for its Plachimada
The apex court on August 12 had issued notice to Coca-Cola on an SLP
filed by the Perumatty grama panchayat seeking a stay on the same
In its SLP filed by counsel K. R. Sasiprabhu, the State said this
was a case of a village community being deprived of the water needed
for its livelihood, mainly due to the industrial activities of a multinational
Justifying the action of the panchayat in refusing to renew the licence
of the company, the State said the local authority had taken the step
to protect the interest of the village community. The `cause-and-effect'
relationship between Coca-Cola drawing underground water and the level
of the water table in the area had been established through various
It said the poor villagers were deprived of drinking water as a result
of the company's action to overdraw underground water to produce bottled
drinks for sale to the rich. Further, it alleged that the community's
water was being lifted to make bottled drinks for the purposes of
export. The State said the poor people in the village could not afford
to buy bottled drinks to quench their thirst.
The SLP submitted that the High Court was not right in castigating
the fears of the people as one of an ego trip against the company.
The SLP contended that the High Court ought to have held that underground
water belonged to the public and when it was apprehended that excessive
withdrawal for business would create scarcity of drinking water, the
local authority was well within its right to evoke its policing power.
The SLP said that drawing huge quantity of water by the company would
cause loss and injury to adjacent properties and in that event there
would be public agitations, which could lead to a chaotic situation.
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