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.”
Sources: The Hindu, The Quint
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The trade unions claim to have taken inspiration from the successful Jallikattu protests, which repealed a ban on the bull-taming festival.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.