Pepsico, panchayat spar over water in Kerala

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Thiruvananthapuram | Updated: May 3, 2016 7:46:55 AM

Pepsico pumped out 5.76 lakh litres per day in January, 5.25 lakh litres per day in February and 5.97 lakh litres per day in March, according to the data, monitored by Kerala's Assembly Subjects Committee

Pepsico pumped out 5.76 lakh litres per day in January, 5.25 lakh litres per day in February and 5.97 lakh litres per day in March, according to the data, monitored by Kerala's Assembly Subjects CommitteePepsico pumped out 5.76 lakh litres per day in January, 5.25 lakh litres per day in February and 5.97 lakh litres per day in March, according to the data, monitored by Kerala’s Assembly Subjects Committee

The council of Puthuserry panchayat in Palakkad in northern Kerala, is set to give a stop-memo to the bottling plant of Pepsico India ,within the panchayat territory.

Palakkad is one the worst drought-hit areas in Kerala, where mercury crossed 41.9 degree on May 1.

“The company has been ignoring the Panchyat’s concern about ground water utilisation, while the villagers are resorting to tanker lorries to collect water,” Puthussery Panchayat president K Unnikrishnan told FE. “We’ll have to ask them to stop drawing water,” he says.

Pepsico pumped out 5.76 lakh litres per day in January, 5.25 lakh litres per day in February and 5.97 lakh litres per day in March, according to the data, monitored by Kerala’s Assembly Subjects Committee.

However, in 2007, Kerala High Court had annulled an order of the panchayat cancelling the licence of the bottling unit in Kanjikode as it was using potable water sources.

The court held that the panchayat did not have the powers to issue or cancel licences to industries in special industrial areas. At the same time, High Court had pointed out, quoting the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution, implying the right to food and water, that Puthuserry panchayat’s anxiety about water shortage cannot be ignored.

In response to this directive, Assembly Subject Committee of subject experts was created then to monitor the impact of groundwater extraction in and around Pepsi unit.

There are seven tube wells close to Pepsi unit. At present, the 6th and 7th tube wells, deepest of them, are being used,” says P S Panicker, who heads an action-committee of the village. There has been widespread concerns about the depletion of ground water in Palakkad district.

Pepsico’s response to the situation is that they have been honouring the guidelines of Kerala High Court.

“Pepsi simultaneously works on two fronts – first, by reducing our water debit, that is, the amount of water used within our operations and second by increasing our water credit – that is the amount we gave back by recharging and replenishing water through sustainable initiatives in agriculture, within communities and in our plants,” according to Pepsico India spokesperson.

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