Chennai: Coca Cola and Pepsi will not be banned from using water from the river Tamiraparani in Tamil Nadu, the Madras High Court said today, four months after the cola giants were stopped from using the water amid protests.

A petitioner had argued that thousands of farmers are suffering as Pepsi and Coke use the river water for commercial gain. The companies, however, said they use only surplus water from the river, which is in Tirunelveli district.

In 2015, several people were injured in clashes during protests over the use of the river water by the companies.

Coke and Pepsi alleged that they were being targeted; their plants are part of a government industrial estate and water is being supplied to all industries.

Petitioner DA Prabhakar had said in court that the river provides water for drinking and irrigation in two districts. He said in 2005, the Tamil Nadu government had granted companies linked to Coca-Cola permission to draw nine lakh litres of water every day and later doubled it. The companies, the petition said, are charged only Rs. 37.50 for every thousand litres.

 

The court order comes in the middle of another protest involving the Colas.

Many retail traders supporting local beverage brands have stopped selling Coke and Pepsi since yesterday, citing health concerns.
Recently, during the protests in support of bull-taming sport Jallikattu in Chennai and other cities, some protesters spoke up against Coke and Pepsi.

In a statement, the Indian Beverages Association said, "PepsiCo India and Hindustan CocaCola are Indian companies. The ban is against the Make in India spirit. Both are safe, conforming to international standards. We hope customers will have the right to choose."