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Kerala cap on Coke fizz

Thiruvananthapuram, Aug. 19 (PTI): The Kerala state pollution control board today directed Coca-Cola India to “stop production” at its Plachimada plant in Palakkad district with immediate effect.

In its order, the board said the company’s reply to its notice issued on July 1 seeking clarification on the source of cadmium in the sludge discharged from the plant was not satisfactory.

“Though the company admits the presence of cadmium in the sludge, no explanation is offered about its source. It was detected by the board that due to existence of cadmium in the effluent as well as in the sludge, the groundwater in the vicinity was found contaminated,” the order said.

Reacting to the pollution control board’s order, Coca-Cola India said it was evaluating future steps, including “judicial review”.

“The company is reviewing the order and is also studying its implications,” Coca-Cola India said in a statement.

“Going forward, we are in the process of evaluating the future steps, including a judicial review,” it said.

The pollution control board said despite specific instructions to provide drinking water facility to people in the affected areas according to the directive of the Supreme Court monitoring committee, the company had failed to provide the facility.

The board also charged the company with failure to install reverse osmosis system for better effluent treatment as directed by it and the apex court monitoring committee.

While issuing the order, the board rejected the company’s written argument terming the board’s earlier notice as ‘ultra vires’ prejudicial and amounting to judicial indiscipline.

The board held that no person, institution, establishment or company had got the right to pollute drinking water as declared by the Supreme Court and Kerala High Court. Noting that the company’s operations were causing severe environmental problems, including poisoning, and contamination of well water, the board said it was exercising powers under sections of the Water (prevention and control of pollution) 1974 Act to refuse consent for continuing operations and stop all kinds of production with immediate effect.

Welcoming the pollution control board’s order, the Plachimada Solidarity Committee said it would provide relief to the local people.

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