Bengal Minister Threatens to Penalise Dankuni-Based Bottler of Coca-Cola
Express News Service
August 22, 2006

Kolkata: The cold war between the Left Front partners over the Cola issue worsened today with the minister for water resources development Nandogopal Bhattacharya (the CPI) threatening to penalise the Dankuni based bottler of Coca Cola, Bengal Beverages, for running its pump illegally.

Two top officials of the Taratola-based Diamond Beverages and Dankuni-based Bengal Beverages, N R Goenka and Shiv Ratan Goenka, today met Bhattacharya who had earlier demanded a ban on the soft drinks. Bhattacharya said he had got samples of Coke and Pepsi tested at labs under his own department and the results revealed that the drinks contained pesticides and other harmful chemicals above permissable standards.

Today, the two officials gave the minister copies of reports from labs that gave a clean chit to Coke and Pepsi.

“I asked the Dankuni bottler whether he had taken permission from the government for setting up the pump and he replied in the negative. I mentioned that this made him liable to pay a penalty. He said he was ready to pay that and would come next time with all the relevant papers and would pay the penalty,’’ Bhattacharya said.

As far as the Taratola-based bottler is concerned, the minister said he had admitted there was arsenic at the second layer of water but claimed he had drawn water from the level below that. ‘‘I told him if it was at the second layer it could percolate down and contaminate the water there,’’ Bhattacharya further said.

The minister also said one of the reasons why the Kerala government banned the soft drinks was that the ground water level in that state had gone down. ‘‘But the situation in West Bengal is no better. Ground water level in south Bengal has gone down dangerously. In Kolkata, too, the level has gone down 6-11 metre below sea level,’’ he said.

He also said that the Kerala government’s ban on Pepsi and Coke came in the wake of a D O letter sent by the director of health and family welfare, Government of India, Rajesh Bhushan. ‘‘It is for you to see whether such a letter came to the West Bengal government too,’’ the minister told mediamen.

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