March 3rd, 2017
Pepsi and Coke had disappeared from many shops in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday as traders in the state began to boycott the beverages of the multinational cola giant. But, the recent decision of the High Court of Madras has given a big relief to Pepsi and Coca-Cola by revoking the order of banning the two firms from using Thamirabarani river water today.
The ban has been lifted from the bottling plants of the companies located at Gangaikondan village in Tirunelveli District, Tamil Nadu. In 2016, the Court had initially injuncted PepsiCo from taking water from the river. After a detailed hearing, the court dismissed the writ petitions and held that there is no environmental impact on account of drawl of water by Pepsico from Thamirabarani river. The advocates of the soda giants denied the allegations of exploiting river water and submitted a counter affidavit in the court that there was sufficient water in the river and only the surplus was allowed to be taken by the two companies
The Madras High Court Bench headed by Justice MV Muralidharan and S Nagamuthu, on 21 November 2016, ordered SIPCOT (State Industrial Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu) to not supply water to Pepsi and Coca-Cola, which draws out several lakh litres of water from Thamirabarani river.
This decision was welcomed by farmers and activists of the region who had been fighting a battle with the companies and the government. The argument was that when the farmers of the state are bearing the brunt of the shortage of water and poor monsoons every year, then the companies should not have a steady supply of water for cheap and further deplete water from the ecosystem.
The whole contention was framed as “privatisation of water resources”. It was cleared that the actual entity drawing out water was SIPCOT, which belongs to the government.
The companies would pay only Rs 37.50 paise per 1,000 litres of water extracted and would sell their beverages at a much higher cost.
The recent decision of the lifting the ban has been welcomed by the company.