As a result of continuous protests, the PepsiCo factory has stopped working since February 4, 2017

Another Plachimada Pepsico unit in Palakkad shuts after protests being targeted says company
news Water wars Saturday, March 11, 2017 - 09:17

It was 11 years ago, that soft drink giant Coco Cola’s manufacturing unit was closed down in Palakkad’s Plachimada. The mass protest by locals that forced a multinational to bow down was first of its kind.  

Reminiscent of the Plachimada agitation, another struggle has been brewing up in another village in the same district.  People living in the Puthussery Panchayat and authorities have been protesting against PepsiCo drawing ground water from the Kanjikode area.

As a result of continuous protests, the PepsiCo factory has stopped working since February 4, 2017 and plant officials announced they were operating in “maintenance” mode.

On February 8, Professor P. S. Panikkar, a social activist and member of the Kanjikode Paristithy Kaval Sangham, a government appointed watchdog group and few other activists tried to enter the factory premises. They wanted to check if the factory had indeed shut, but they were not allowed inside.

Panikkar told The News Minute that factory had claimed to have stopped functioning for the last one month, but they were worried when it would resume. He also alleged that over exploitation of water by the factory had caused wells to dry up.

 “Almost all the wells and borewells here in the panchayat have dried up due to the ground water exploitation. Since it is just an industrial area with few residents, we had practical difficulties in starting a mass agitation like Plachimada,” Panikkar said.

The Panchayat now distributes water in tankers and that has become the only source of water for villagers. “The panchayat is spending a lot of money on tanker water. Panchayat sent notices to company. But they did not come for discussions or reply to the notices,” Panikkar says.

The factory was started in 2000 and in 2003 panchayat had cancelled their license. But later, the factory resumed functioning armed with a High Court order.

“Most of the people who live her4e are farmers and labourers. Since it is an industrial area people live in scattered places. How long can we fight? If they resume, we can’t fight longer,” Panikkar says.

He alleged that though the HC allowed PepsiCo to draw only 2.5 lakh litres of water per day, much more that that was being

In January 2017, the Kerala government had ordered industries in Palakkad to reduce their water intake by 75%.

“The company doesn’t function in a transparent manner. We have no idea when they will restart. The Kerala government should take steps to permanently shut down PepsiCo factory or cut down all their water allowances. They can’t function in district like Palakkad where water scarcity is severe,” he said.

However, the claim has been denied by PepsiCo. In a press statement the company said that there was misinformation campaign against them.

“PepsiCo India has been granted permission by the Honourable High Court of Kerala to draw up to 6 Lakh Litres of water per day for our plant located at Palakkad,” the statement said.

“We have been complying with the Honourable High Court order, until the recent direction of DDMA for reduction of water consumption upto 75%. It is unfortunate that this direction has not considered the Honourable High Court’s order and accordingly PepsiCo has been compelled to reduce its water consumption drastically to only 1.5 Lakh Litres per day,” the statement said.

 “It is disheartening to see the targeted misinformation campaign against us on the alleged misuse of water. We have a world class internal automated system that monitors consumption of water in accordance with applicable water extraction limits which is currently at 1.5 Lakh litres of water,” it added.



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