Madras HC permits PepsiCo to draw water from river

Chennai, March 2 (IANS) A day after Tamil Nadu traders began boycotting Coke and Pepsi for over exploiting ground water, the Madras High Court on Thursday lifted the ban on drawing water from Thamirabarani river.

The Madurai Bench of the High Court dismissed a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by an activist and lifted the injunction on PepsiCo and the makers of Coca Cola from drawing water from Thamirabarani river in Tirunelveli district.

The plaintiffs complained that the two companies were drawing water from the river, which in turn was affecting farming.

The High Court asked the petitioner why a similar case was not filed against other companies drawing water from the same river.

The Tamil Nadu government said only surplus river water was supplied to the cola companies.

According to J. Sagar Associates (JSA) — the law firm representing PepsiCo — the judgement was critical as water from this river catered to half of the company’s production capacity for south India.

Dheeraj Nair, partner in the Delhi office of JSA, told IANS that the state government had permitted PepsiCo to draw 15 lakh litre per day but only 3.30 lakh litre was being drawn now.

He said PepsiCo’s plant in Tirunelveli district can do 300 Aquafina bottles per minute and only one line is currently operating and no other beverage was being made there.

The High Court had initially prevented PepsiCo from drawing water from the river in November 2016.

However, after a detailed hearing, the High Court vacated the interim orders and dismissed the writ petitions saying there was no environmental impact due to the withdrawal of water by PepsiCo from the river.

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