Cola Major Packing Bags from Jharkhand
B Vijay Murty
Hindustan Times
April 18, 2007

Jamshedpur: The Beverage industry in Jharkhand is not having the best of times. Days after closing down production at its Jamshedpur bottling plant, Hindustan Coca Cola Beverage Pvt Ltd is reportedly preparing to hand over the leased land back to Adityapur Industrial Area Development Authority (AIADA).

Highly-placed sources informed HT that the company has already given Voluntary Retirement (VR) to all its operators in Jamshedpur, while several administrative staff have been transferred to other bottling plants across the country.

"They are in the process of packing up. We have reports that the company will return the land to us," sources in the AIADA said.

Coke consumed in Jharkhand is now supplied from Rourkela, Bhubaneswar and the bottling plants in Bihar.

AIADA secretary HN Ram had earlier said a notice was sent to the company, asking it to return the leased land 'as it was not in use for production purpose.'

"We have learnt that the company is violating norms set for land use. A notice has been served to the company officials posted here. As per the rules, we issue three notices to a company before initiating further action. So far, we have served only one notice on the unit," said Ram.

Sources, however, said the company would probably not wait to be served the notices. There are several legalities, including fate of infrastructure build up on the plot by the company, which have to be discussed before the land is finally returned.

When contacted, the company officials said they were yet to receive the AIADA notice. "Once we receive the notice, we would act lawfully," they said.

But, what has led to the cola major winding up production in Jharkhand? "High cost of production, and negative propaganda against the brand have taken its toll," sources said, adding, "The Yoga Gurus of late have targeted Coke, bringing down its sales considerably."

Basant Kumar, spokesperson of the Pepsi bottling plant at Adityapur, also admitted that conditions for the beverage industry in Jharkhand were not favourable. "Unlike Coca Cola, we are not closing down, but the situation on the whole is not favourable."

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