TIRUNELVELI: Soft drink major Coca Cola continues to generate adverse
publicity. The MNC was in the eye of a storm at Plachimada in Palakkad
district of Kerala, where there was stiff opposition to its bottling unit.
The focus has now shifted to Gangaikondan, where a Coca Cola
production unit is fast coming up. The local CPM unit is already up in
arms against the unit, alleging it would deplete the water table in
The South India Bottling Company (P) Ltd would be producing the soft
drink, on a formula provided by Coke, at its unit in the Industrial
Growth Centre of State Industrial Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu
(SIPCOT) at Gangaikondan, 15 km from here.
The CPM district committee organised a protest demonstration on
Wednesday, demanding a halt to the MNC’s arrival in Tirunelveli district.
The unit covers an area of around 32 acres inside the SIPCOT complex,
spread over an area of 2,500 acres in Gangaikondan on the
Tirunelveli-Madurai Highway. The lease period for companies coming up
in the complex is 99 years. SIPCOT has promised to supply 45 lakh
litres of water per day to these companies. The Coke unit alone will
get 5 lakh litres everyday. The water will be drawn from the
Tamiraparani river in Seevalaperi, some 14 km from the site.
Three infiltration wells have been sunk in the Tamiraparani river bed
and a pump room has also been built. The pipelines have already been
laid for drawing the requisite 45 lakh litres of water to the SIPCOT
complex. A sump has been constructed nearby for storing the water.
But the CPM opposition stems from the apprehension that the company
will indiscriminately extract ground water and suck the region dry.
CITU district secretary R. Karumalayan said: ‘‘The track record of
Coca Cola in India is not encouraging. Moreover, several parts of
Tirunelveli already face drinking water problems and if the company is
to draw 5 lakh litres of water from the Tamiraparani river as
proposed, the region is sure to face severe water crisis in the future’’.
Tamiraparani is the source for the Kovilpatti drinking water scheme,
TWAD Board schemes and the supply of drinking water for places like
Sattur in Virdhunagar district. Some private companies also draw water
from the river. Those who support the Coke project argue that the
Tamiraparani is a perennial source of water. Besides, only the excess
water is being drawn by SIPCOT.