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The Madras High Court today allowed Coca Cola and Pepsi to draw water from the Thamirabarani river in Tamil Nadu for their bottling plants.

In a relief for the Cola majors, the Madurai bench of the court gave them permission to draw water from the Thamirabarani river for their bottling plants in Tirunelveli district for manufacturing soft drinks besides packaged drinking water.

This was based on a PIL filed by D.A.Prabakar, secretary of Tirunelveli consumer association, claiming that the companies were using the river water for commercial purposes while the farmers were deprived of their livelihood.”The companies paid only 37.50 paise per 1,000 litres of water extracted and sold their beverages at a much higher cost”,said Prabakar.

Pronouncing the order on Thursday, the bench said the petitioner DA Prabhakar of Tirunelveli was earlier dealing with cases of South India bottling company, co-packer of Coca-cola, for nearly three years. Due to his unethical practice, his service was terminated.

The court had no hesitation to conclude that he had approached the court with mala fide intention and the PIL should not be allowed to be misused. The court dismissed both the petitions allowing the companies to draw water from the river.

President A M Vikrama Raja,Traders Federation in Tamil Nadu,declared drinks as ‘toxic’ for consumption. “People are aware of the adverse health effects of these drinks.”

“We will start a campaign among our members and the public against the foreign brands. From March 1, we will sell only domestic cold drink brands.”

“About 70 per cent of the,15 lakh, traders have decided to boycott the sales of Coke and Pepsi from today onwards for their toxic nature. Whatever you find on the shelves of the stores are leftover stocks and those not taken back by the distributing agencies,” he said.

Raja had then said that the youth and students who were part of that movement had extended their support to the cause of banning these soft drinks.

Reacting to the call to boycott products of Coca-Cola and PepsiCo India, the Indian Beverage Association said it was “deeply disappointed”.

“This is against the proven fundamentals of robust economic growth, and against the clarion call of Make in India,” it said.

Both Coca Cola and Pepsi have bottling units in Tamil Nadu.



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