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Indian State to Crack Down on Drinks Firms
 
AFP
November 15, 2007

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, India The Indian state of Kerala said Thursday it was drafting a law to stop soft drinks firms including Pepsico using too much water amid concerns over a "severe" shortage of drinking water.

N.K. Premachandran, minister for water resources in the south Indian state, said soft drink makers would risk having their licences withdrawn under the new law if they over exploited groundwater supplies.

"The state groundwater department has conducted a survey where a PepsiCo bottling plant is situated and found that the company is over exploiting groundwater resulting in a severe drinking water shortage," Premachandaran told AFP.

"We are going to amend the (water resources) law with provisions to impose stringent penalties on the erring companies including cancellation of their licence."

The two main soft drink makers in India are Coca Cola and Pepsico, which is embroiled in a long legal battle with Kerala's Puthussery village.

The village council decided in 2004 to cancel the operating licence it gave the US cola giant's plant on the grounds it used too much water.

Pepsico disputed the village charge and a state court blocked the move.

Meanwhile, the state Pollution Control Board has started legal proceedings against a Coca Cola bottling plant in the state for fouling soil and water.

The plant in southern Kerala state has been closed since March 2004 following a temporary ban by the government and subsequent protests by residents of a village near the bottling operation over depleting groundwater in the region.

The company's Indian arm, Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Private Limited, denied the allegations and called them "unwarranted and arbitrary."

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