The Madras High Court has ordered that water from the river Tamirabarani in Tamil Nadu must not be diverted to Coca-Cola and Pepsi producing plants in Gangaikondan due to the severe water shortages in the area.
The court order came following a public interest litigation filed by the Federation of Consumer Organisation – Tamilnadu & Pondicherry (FEDCOT), a statewide consumer organization, which had sought to stop the use of river water for production of Coca-Cola and Pepsi product because water scarcity has diminished both drinking water as well as water for irrigation in the area.
The High court in its order said, “it is the duty of the State as well as this Court to ensure the livelihood and the welfare of the general public, by making these natural resources available to them, instead of diverting the same for commercial purpose.”
“As long as Coca-Cola and Pepsi continue to operate in water stressed areas in India, they will continue to face opposition from the community and farmers. We need to ensure adequate water for drinking, which is a fundamental human right, as well as for farming which is the source of livelihood for most Indians, before water can be diverted for unnecessary and unhealthy products such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi,” said Amit Srivastava of the India Resource Centre which is backing the active campaigns of FEDCOT.
Its campaign has called for an end to all bottling operations in water stressed areas – regardless of whether groundwater or surface water is used.
The story of Kaladera in Rajasthan where permission for this soft drink giant was granted in one of the most arid areas in India,resulting in the further exhaustion of scarce water resources for nearly 15 years should not be forgotten.
In this background it must be noted that a Coca Cola plant in Andhra Pradesh, for instance, received 5 million litres of water a day – piped from the Krishna river – at 0.03 paise per litre.