Eleven years after it was told to shut down its factory in Kerala's Plachimada, beverages giant Coca Cola has now been stopped from setting up a plant in Tamil Nadu's Perundurai.
Taking into account farmers' fears that groundwater would be depleted by the beverages plant, the Tamil Nadu government cancelled its permission allowing the world's largest soft drinks producer to build a plant 445 km from Chennai.
The state government, however, said it cancelled permission following the company's failure to execute the project even after six months.
Coca Cola officials told NDTV it's withdrawing from the project because of delays in approvals and "unforeseen pressures."
Denying that Coca-Cola was asked to shut down its plant in Kerala, company officials said in Tamil Nadu, they planned to use water meant for industry and as allotted by SIPCOT (State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu Ltd).
Coca Cola has requested that the Tamil Nadu government refund the money paid so far, but the company is still committed to investing in the state, its officials said.
The company had been given a 71-acre plot, and the cost of constructing the plant would have been Rs 500 crore.
In Perundurai, meanwhile, residents celebrated by distributing sweets and bursting firecrackers. For four months , they had been apprehensive that the plant would suck up all the groundwater and pollute the air and water sources.
"The state government allocated (Coca Cola) 40 lakh liters of water a day,'' Ponnavan, of Perundurai's Anti-Coca Cola Movement, told NDTV. "Our area is dry, with heavy scarcity in drinking water and water for irrigation. We held protests against this plant because of this scarcity and because of pollution. This is a huge victory for the peoples' movement," he said.
In 2004, Coca Cola was ordered to shut down its bottling plant in Plachimada in Kerala for excessive consumption of water. Later, Kerala also passed a law saying that Coca-Cola be sued for Rs 216 crore for depleting groundwater in Palakkad district.