Two More Indian States Ban Soft Drinks Made by US Cola Giants
August 10, 2006

Two more Indian states banned soft drinks after an environmental group last week said tests of products made by Coca-Cola and PepsiCo showed high pesticide levels.

Six states have now enacted partial or full bans on soft drinks made by the two companies in India after the New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment said tests it conducted on 57 samples of 11 soft drinks produced by Coca-Cola and PepsiCo showed high pesticide levels.

The report was a follow-up to its findings three years ago that 12 of the companies' soft drinks had such high pesticide levels they could lead to cancer.

Coca-Cola and Pepsico said in statements Friday that the drinks were safe.

The most severe ban was announced by the southern state of Kerala Wednesday which announced an embargo on the manufacture and sale of drinks made by the cola giants.

"We have decided to ban sale and production of Coca Cola and Pepsi soft-drinks in the state as their products contains high level of toxic substances which is injurious to public health," V.S. Achuthanandan, chief minister of Kerala told AFP.

Achuthanandan, 83, was at the forefront of a successful campaign to close a Coca-Cola factory in Plachimada, 370 kilometres (229 miles) northeast of Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala.

Villagers living near the plant had charged the cola giant with depleting ground water and polluting the soil with sludge discharges.

Following the protests, the Coca-Cola bottling plant was finally closed down in February 2004. On Wednesday, Achuthanandan promised similar action against Pepsi's unit in his state.

"We will take steps to close down the Pepsi factory in Puthussery village in Palakkad district of Kerala," he said.

Both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo were granted permission by the Kerala government to open bottling units in 1997.

In addition, the southern state of Karnataka announced Wednesday that 11 brands of soft drinks made by Pepsi and Coca-Cola were banned from all state-run educational institutions and hospitals from August 14.

The ban will be in force within 100 metres (yards) of all schools, colleges and hospitals across the state, Karnataka Health Minister R. Ashok told a press conference in Bangalore.

The western state of Gujarat, central Madhya Pradesh and the northern states of Rajasthan and Punjab banned the soft drinks from schools and state offices last week.

India's Supreme Court last week gave the two firms six weeks to reveal the ingredients of their products. Some legislators in the federal parliament have called for a total ban on sales of soft drinks.

Pepsi and Coke were banned in India in 1977 as part of a nationalist wave and were allowed back in the country in 1993 when Coca Cola resumed operations.

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