The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Monday directed two major soft drink companies, Pepsi and Coca Cola, to stop using water from Thamirabarani river for the purpose of producing commercial products like soft drinks or packaged drinking water.
The public interest litigation (PIL) was filed by DA Prabhakar from Tirunelveli stating that the Thamirabarani River which flows through Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi provides water for drinking and irrigation purposes for the two districts. The river originates from the Western Ghats.
The New Indian Express reported that the Tamil Nadu Water and Drainage Board (TWAD) requires 12.5 crore litres of water for about 20 integrated drinking projects in Tirunelveli district. Moreover, TWAD requires water for various drinking water schemes in Thoothukudi, Virudhunagar and Ramanathapuram. Thoothukudi and Ramanathapuram alone were drawing around 10 crore litres of water for drinking purposes.
More than 5 crore litres of water is being used in Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi for drinking purposes. About 27 industrial establishments have been functioning at SIPCOT in Gangaikondan near Tirunelveli and in Thoothukudi, 73 industries are functioning. About 1,84,08471 litres of water are supplied to SIPCOT complex near Tirunelveli and 15,89,769 litres of water for SIPCOT complex in Thoothukudi, reported TNIE.
Prathishta Business Solution, co-packer of Pepsi Cola Company and South India Bottling Company, the co-packer of Coca Cola Company are functioning on 30 acres land each in Ganagikondan, SIPCOT complex. The state government had given them a contract for 99 years and had agreed to supply 9 lakh litres and 15 lakh litres of water daily to both the companies, reported TNIE.
The petitioner stated that Gangaikondan was declared as a national sanctuary for spotted deer, and if these two companies, which are located within a 4 km radius of the spotted deer park, are provided water from Thamirabarani river, then it would affect the deer population.
So, he asked the court to stop providing water to these two companies. Acting on his plea, the Madras High Court banned both the companies from using the river water, stating that it is important to protect the interests of farmers and the common man, reported TNIE.