Cokes Plachimada unit imbroglio may linger

Kochi, Nov 18 | Updated: Nov 19 2005, 05:59am hrs
The recent high court verdict allowing Coke to apply for a licence despite Pollution Control Board's (PCB) closure order and directing the panchayat to grant licence is likely to deepen the crisis of reopening the company's Plachimada factory.

Perumatty panchayat and the PCB are considering legal recourse, may move the Supreme Court (SC).

This is despite the Kerala High Court dismissing the Coca Cola's clarification petition on the period of the licence stating that it should not land the company in deeper waters. The coke plant has not been operating for more than a year.

The court rejected the contention of Coke that it had the benefit of acquiring a deemed licence. It had earlier directed the Perumatty panchayat to renew the licence though it had not set any restriction on the minimum duration for the licence and the panchayat granted it a three-month licence.

However, it had then said the company would have to produce a fresh clearance certificate from the PCB under the hazardous waste (management and handling) rules before August 1.

On August 19, the PCB issued closure notice to the company for failing to meet its norms.

Bubbling Trouble

Perumatty panchayat, PCB considering moving SC against HC order allowing Coke to apply for licence
This is despite the Kerala High Court dismissing the Coca Cola's clarification petition
Coke plant has not been operating for more than a year
The court rejected the contention of Coke that it had the benefit of acquiring a deemed licence

The company has now been asked to apply for licence/renewal and directed the panchayat authority to pass orders thereon, notwithstanding its order granting it a three-month licence or the order of the PCB.

It has said that after commencement of functioning and after a reasonable period, the PCB will have to monitor the processes to ensure that standards were appropriately maintained.

Counsel for the panchayat K Ramkumar said the panchayat will move the SC as without prior notice the court had asked it to issue licence.

PCB chairman Rajmohan told FE that the board had issued orders for closure and was now studying the verdict and was likely to take legal recourse.

Meanwhile, the state government is to issue orders for curbing the use of groundwater for industrial purposes in 31 panchayats, including Perumatty. This was likely to add to the crisis of the company, the industry fears.