Court nod for Pepsi's plant, Kerala to file review plea
Kozhikode (Kerala), April 10 (IANS) The Kerala High Court Tuesday cleared the way for cola giant PepsiCo to begin operations at its plant in Kerala's Palakkad district even as the state government said it would appeal against the verdict.
The Puthusery village council in the district had cancelled the firm's license to operate the plant in 2004, alleging that it drew excessive groundwater leading to water shortage in the area. PepsiCo then approached the high court in the same year.
A division bench of acting Chief Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan and Justice M.N. Krishnan set aside the village council's action saying it had no right to look into such matters, as the plant was located in an industrial belt.
"The courts cannot be blamed for the predicament of the legislature and executive in their wisdom of excluding the industrial area from the purview of the Kerala Panchayathi Raj Act. If there is any over-utilisation of groundwater from these areas then it has to be looked into by other competent agencies," the court noted.
Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan said the state government would go for an appeal against the ruling.
"Today's verdict shows that the courts do not approve of the Kerala Panchayathi Raj Act. The government would go for an appeal against this. The village council is obviously concerned about the needs of drinking water in the village and they have done the right thing," Achuthanandan told reporters here.
Puthusery village council president K. Suresh said they had taken up the issue because they were concerned with the needs of the people.
"We are an organisation approved by the constitution and hence we feel that we did the right thing. We will decide on the future course of action after studying the full verdict," said Suresh.
Villagers, under the aegis of the Left parties that now rule the state, have been up in arms against PepsiCo and Coca Cola, which also has a plant in Placchimada in Palakkad, around 250 km from here.
Coke also had to fight a long-drawn legal battle on the same grounds. Despite a court order in its favour has decided not to open its plant for the time being.