Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Friday, Apr 23, 2004
Pepsi gets HC stay, but cannot draw ground water
Kochi , April 22
A DIVISION Bench of the Kerala High Court today stayed the Pudussery Grama Panchayat's order cancelling the licence of the Pepsico India Holdings Private Ltd for running its factory in Kanjikode in Palakkad, subject to the condition that the company shall not draw ground water till May 31.
The Bench comprising Mr Justice Cyriac Joseph and Mr Justice K. Padmanabhan Nair issued the order at a special sitting when a writ petition field by the company challenging the cancellation of licence came up before the court. (The special sitting was held as the court is on summer vacation.)
The licence was cancelled in August 22, 2003 on the ground that there had been scarcity of drinking water in the area near the company due to over-exploitation of ground water. According to the company, the Panchayat had no power to revoke the licence as it had been granted by the Kerala Industrial Single Widow Clearance Board.
The power to revoke the licence had been vested only with the Board.
The company also disputed the claim of the panchayat that there was depletion of the ground water and said that every possible step had been taken to recharge the ground water table in the aquifers, thereby completely eliminating the possibility of depletion of ground water.
The Bench said that it found that there was prima facie force in the contention of the company. However, the court could not ignore the fact that the decision was taken by the Panchayat on the ground that there was scarcity of drinking water due to over-exploitation of ground water by the company.
Though the petitioner had disputed the claim of the Panchayat, the court said that it did not find any reason to disbelieve the findings of a statutory body like Panchayat, that the people of the area were facing acute water scarcity.
The Judge observed that the claim of the Panchayat "deserves to be appreciated" in view of the Government order prohibiting the Coca-Cola company from drawing ground water till the onset of the South-West monsoon.
The court also noted that the Bench had earlier refused to stay this Government order when the Coca-Cola Company sought a stay against the order.
The court had then observed that difficulties being faced by the people "deserved more consideration" than the difficulties faced by the company. The Bench said that while the Coca-Cola was located in Chittoor Taluk, the Pepsi was in Kanjikode East of Palakkad Taluk. Both were nearby taluks in the Palakkad district.
The case had been posted to May 24 for final hearing.
Stories in this Section
The Hindu Group: Home | About Us | Copyright | Archives | Contacts | Subscription
Group Sites: The Hindu | Business Line | Sportstar | Frontline | The Hindu eBooks | The Hindu Images | Home |
Copyright © 2004, The
Hindu Business Line. Republication or redissemination of the contents of
this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of
The Hindu Business Line