A Kerala Assembly panel has recommended imposition of curbs on extraction of water by multinational cola giant Pepsi's plant at Pudussery in Palakkad district, taking a serious note of the alleged exploitation of groundwater.
The report, tabled in the assembly, however, did not ask for closure of the plant, which provides direct and indirect employment to 3,500 people.
Releasing the report, panel chairman and state Water Resources Minister N K Premachandran said the key suggestion in the report was to impose restrictions on water extraction by Pepsi at 2.34 lakh litres per day from the present average of seven lakh litres a day.
Meanwhile Pepsi India has issued a statement saying: "Palakkad is one of the most water efficient units. It has been able to save about 200 million litres of water in the last four years and brought down water usage by 60 per cent, utilising only 0.7 per cent of the total water consumption in the area."
On the issue whether the plant was causing water pollution, the report said the possibility could not be ruled out, but required a detailed study to draw firm conclusions.
The House committee said that industrial units using groundwater as the main raw material should be generally discouraged.
Pepsi plant situated over an area of 53 acre uses nearly 48.5 per cent of the ground water, the report said.
Preamchandran said the government did not want to discourage industries but wanted them to function with restrictions on water extraction.
Besides Pepsi, five distilleries, two breweries and 12 mineral water units together extract 15 lakh litre ground water per day in the area, the report said.
As there is concentration of so many units with water as main raw material functioning in one place, the committee recommended to implement an 'Industrial Water Supply Scheme' for the park.
All these units should be brought under the control of Industries Department, the report suggested.
The committee also made certain suggestions to restrict use of ground water by all the units in the Industrial Park. (With PTI inputs)