The Madras High Court Division Bench of Justices A. Selvam and P. Kalaiyarasan in Madurai on Thursday dismissed two public interest litigation petitions filed against the supply of Tamirabarani river water to the industries set up by the soft drink industries Pepsi and Coca Cola on 1,991.58 acres in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu.
The court has also dissolved an interim injunction granted by the court in November restraining the SIPCOT (State Industries of Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu) from supplying water to the cola giants.
As the protesters have faced a setback after this ruling, the judges have questioned why the petitioners did not file cases against other industries too that was being supplied with more water from the same river than what was being supplied to these two. According to the Hindu, Justice Selvam has asked the petitioner “Why are you not attacking other industries? Why have you adopted a pick and choose method?”
In their defence, Pepsico and Coca-Cola have denied all the allegations of exploiting the water of the TN River. The SIPCOT also filed a counter affidavit in reply while before Bench against supply of the river water to the two companies at a “throw-away price.”
In an attempt to increase support for local products, prominent trade bodies in Tamil Nadu have called for a boycott of Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Members of the Tamil Nadu Traders Federation (TNTF) and the Consortium of Tamil Nadu Traders Association (CTNTA) are requesting shopkeepers to stock up on home-grown brands like Bovonto, Torino and Frooti to increase sales and provide an alternative to the global cola brands.
The trade unions claim to have taken inspiration from the successful Jallikattu protests, which repealed a ban on the bull-taming festival. The heads of the unions have also cited environmental and health concerns, alleging that multinational soft drink corporations were misusing groundwater resources. A M Vikramaraja, president of the CTNTA, also addressed the media, saying, “We are not opposing it just because these products are made by the MNCs. But it does more harm than good to the body. We decided to boycott because of the harmful content.”
Out of nearly 20 lakh shopkeepers that are affiliated with the trade unions, nearly a third will take the products off their shelves with immediate effect. However, the ban has been opposed by several supermarkets located in Chennai. The ban comes at a time when PepsiCo’s Chief Executive Officer Indra Nooyi, who incidentally happens to hail from Chennai, has flown to India as a part of a week-long tour of the country, culminating in a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages (HCCB) has suspended its bottling plant at Kaladera in Jaipur after activists had campaigned protesting against reduction of underground water level and poor situations of plant machinery. The U.S. beverage giant faces challenge in parts of India as it seeks to expand in the world’s second-most populous nation. The closing comes after three shutdowns and delay of expansion activity by HCCB since 2014. The move may affect at least 300 employees. Coca-Cola has now suspended manufacturing at three locations in India citing lack of “long-term economic viability”.
Coca-Cola which bottles, distributes and sells its goods here has put off manufacturing at Vishakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh), Brynihat (Meghalaya) and now Kaladera near Jaipur (Rajasthan).
As reported by PTI, HCCBPL spokesperson said, “Like with any other manufacturing organisation, we are going through a process of consolidation where new state-of-the art facilities are being built and existing production capacities are being optimised.”
With regard to the Kaladera plant in Rajasthan, he said, while the plant has been currently suspended manufacturing, other operations are continuing at Kaladera. The company also retains the licence to produce at the plant, which he says is a testimony to the fact that should there be an alteration in demand and volume, with the company considering exploiting the latent capability at the Kaladera plant. In India, HCCB has an expansive market with 54 plants of which 24 are franchise plants, 25 are company-owned and five are co-packers.
“Indian Cinema has not grown because of the Government, but despite it!”, remarked Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, Manish Tiwari, while addressing the audience present during the release of the 24th edition of the Limca Book of Records. The book was launched on the 10th day of April, at the FICCI Auditorium, New Delhi and the book’s theme this year celebrates the Centennial of Indian Cinema, while focusing on people who have left their footprints in their respective fields of specialization.
Leading quizmaster Barry O’Brien was the anchor for the event and lived up to his title ‘Master of Ceremonies’ by keeping the audience enthralled and in splits with comments like “Are you related to my wife? She always has counter-questions”. During breaks between the sequence of events, O’Brien tested the audience on their knowledge of the Indian film industry with picture quizzes of the most popular personalities, and asking questions like “Which Indian holds the record of 50,000 fan clubs across the globe?” (Rajnikanth, for the uninitiated). O’Brien then went on to speak about how the book can help people from different backgrounds — teachers, students, quizmasters like himself, film-makers.
A short screening followed, which was a montage of the establishment of 2 decades of Coca-Cola in India, in addition to the 24th edition of the Limca Book of Records. The book boasts of over 10,000 achievements which have been compiled over 20 chapters — all of which weave inspiring stories of people from the film industry who had a thirst for more than just films, and like O’Brien aptly put it, “if the thirst is alive, then the show will go on..”, and how! Stories of not only “stars”, but also photographers, musicians, documentary film-makers, editors, cinematographers, and regional film-makers were just some of the many luminaries who have excelled in their respective fields and found their way to secure a position in the book.
Minister Tiwari was then welcomed with a bouquet of flowers and the ceremonial ‘tankha’, and went on to light the lamp.
Atul Singh, the President of Coca-Cola, South-West Asia, then stepped on to the dais and spoke about how each year, the jury appointed by the company diligently nominates and selects ‘People of the Year’. “Many people have contributed over the years, but we’re honoring just 20 of these people today,” he said. Members of the afore-stated jury include H.K. Dua (Member of Parliament), and film critic of South Indian cinema, Pratibha Sastri.
“They say a few passions unite Indians. One of them is cinema.”
Following this, a brief tribute was played, to 25 legends that are no longer in our midst, but touched our hearts and lives nonetheless. Some of these magnates included the “Iron Man” Dara Singh, T. Damodaran, A.K. Hangal, Jaspal Bhatti, Gavin Packard, Raj Kanwar, Achala Sachdeva and Jose Prakash. Out of the 20 people honored, 7 were present at the function and were then called on stage to be awarded individually — Actress Shabana Azmi, Director Jahnu Barua, Cinematographers V.K. Murthy and Santosh Sivan, Choreographer Prabhu Deva, Editor Sreekar Prasad and Documentary Filmmaker Mike Pandey.
Mike Pandey, whose film, “The Vanishing Giants”, triggered a campaign, spoke about the urgent need for documentary channels and threw light upon the alarming rate (67%) of Indians who are without information and education. “Dcoumentaries can fill that gap, being agents of change.” Pandey then went on to urge a very poker-faced Manish Tiwari to provide such a platform.
The remaining 13 people couldn’t make it to the event, as each one of them was busy shooting for their respective films — Actors Naseeruddin Shah, Kamal Haasan and Ranbir Kapoor, Directors Mira Nair, Aparna Sen, Mani Ratnam, K. Vishwanath and Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Scriptwriter Gulzar, being some of them.
This book, that strings together ‘Indian’ achievements, was launched in 1986. Since then, its objective has remained simple – providing a platform to seemingly “ordinary” Indians to portray their talent[s] in their search for excellence. Since its inception, the book has been an amalgamation of sorts – combining thrills with humor in equal measures, but simultaneously informative and perhaps even inspiring.