Coke seeks nod for shifting plant locale

Kochi, Jan 2 | Updated: Jan 3 2006, 06:34am hrs
The Coca-Cola factory at Plachimada in Palakkad district has appealed to the Kerala government to allow the company to shift its operation to an industrial centre at nearby Pudusseri panchayat which also houses the Pepsi plant.

The state government is expected to hear the company in the matter on Tuesday along with officials of Perumatty panchayat where the plant is presently situated. The bottling plant at Plachimada has been in the eye of a storm ever since it began operations in 2000.

A massive agaitation against the companys excessive use of groundwater which the locals said was cause for water scarcity in the vicinity, coupled with revelations of the presence of toxic materials in the sludge flushed out had led to the Kerala High Court halting the company operations in April 2004.

Since then the company has not been functioning. Even the state pollution control board had issued a closure order. It was only recently that the state government notified the area as drought-affected curbing the use of groundwater which can make things more difficult for the company.

In its appeal before the state government, the company has said that it had invested over Rs 90 crore for the project in Perumatty panchayat. However, owing to certain misinformed campaigns and certain pollution control-related issues its operations came to a grinding halt.

COKE CHOKE
THE CHARGES
The company's excessive use of groundwater is leading to water scarcity in the vicinity, coupled with revelations of presence of toxic materials in the sludge being flushed out
COMPANY COUNTERS
This being a fallout of certain misinformed campaigns' and 'certain pollution control-related issues
THE STORY SO FAR
The state pollution control board has already issued closure order against the company
Recently, the state government notified the area in question as drought-affected, curbing the use of groundwater
The company now for relocating
its plant to a DIC land in Pudussery Panchayat
Despite the court order, the Perumatty panchayat authorities were unwilling to renew the licence and not allowing it to restart operations. After several rounds of interaction with the officials of the state government and the district industries centre in Palakkad, the company was keen on relocating its plant to the 35-40 acres of land recently aquired by the DIC in Pudussery panchayat, 40 km from the present location.

It has sought appropriate compensation in the form of continued and increased sales tax incentives to offset the expense. It also said the plea for relocation be accepted after confirmed resolution for meeting the infrastructure needs like water and electricity. The company presently enjoys a seven-year sales tax benefit for investing in a backward area. Meanwhile, the Perumatty panchayat has in its statement to the state government said it had no objection to relocation of the company and clarified that it was against the plea to notify Plachimada as an industrial centre.

US varsity to toss Coke

Coca-Cola Co on Friday said it was banned from another college campus this month when the University of Michigan halted purchases of the companys products following concerns about the soft drink makers labour practices in Colombia and environmental actions in India.
Reuters