High Court Orders All Records Related to Coca-Cola Plant in Gangaikondan
Hints at appointing expert panel to study environmental impact
MADURAI: The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has directed the
Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to produce all original
records pertaining to the permission granted by it to the South India
Bottling Company, a subsidiary of Hindustan Coca-Cola, for establishing
a soft drink manufacturing unit at Gangaikondan panchayat in Tirunelveli
Passing interim orders on a public interest litigation against setting
up the unit, the First Bench, comprising Chief Justice Ajit Prakash
Shah and Justice A. Kulasekaran, also directed the company to produce
relevant materials to substantiate its claim that the unit had already
Further, the TNPCB, State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil
Nadu (SIPCOT) and other authorities were asked to file their individual
counter affidavits and the matter was posted to March 13.
Earlier, during arguments, the Bench said that after perusing the
documents, it might consider appointing an expert committee headed
by an eminent scholar from Anna University in Chennai to inspect the
unit and file its independent report on the alleged environmental
According to the petitioner, R. Krishnan (63) of Palayamkottai, a
former MLA attached to the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the
company had proposed to set up a soft drink manufacturing unit at
a cost of Rs.280 million, spread over 31.54 acres in Gangaikondan
village. The SIPCOT had agreed to supply nine lakh litres of water
per day to the unit at the rate of Rs.15 for every 1000 litres. While
it had not been made clear whether the water would be drawn from the
ground or the Tamirabarani river close to the unit, either way it
would affect the environment, he claimed.
Protest by locals
Even after the local people protested against the move and resorted
to various forms of agitation, the TNPCB on March 3, 2005, granted
consent for running the unit, though the company itself had applied
to the Board only on February 28, 2005.
He alleged that the TNPCB had not followed the mandatory requirements
of holding a public enquiry and instead mechanically granted consent.
"It is not a matter only between the applicant and the Board. The
public are vitally interested," he added.
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