Relief to soft-drink majors Pepsi, Coca-Cola as Madras HC lifts Tamirabarani water-drawing ban

MADURAI: The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Thursday dismissed two petitions seeking a direction to restrain co-packers of soft drink giants Pepsi and Coca-Cola from drawing water from Tamirabarani in Thoothukudi district.

While paying heed to contention of the companies that SIPCOT provides them only surplus water from the river, and that their consumption was comparatively lesser than many of their neighbouring companies, the court also observed that one of the petitioners, an advocate, had approached the court to settle his personal scores with the co-packer of Coca-Cola, for whom he worked for three years.

Pronouncing the order on Thursday, the bench said the petitioner DA Prabhakar of Tirunelveli was earlier dealing with cases of South India bottling company, co-packer of Coca-cola, for nearly three years. Due to his unethical practice, his service was terminated.

Following this, the petitioner moved various forums, including National Green Tribunal, South Zone and the HC several times against his former client. The present petition too seemed to be an attempt to settle his personal grievances with the company.

The court had no hesitation to conclude that he had approached the court with mala fide intention and the PIL should not be allowed to be misused. The court dismissed both the petitions allowing the companies to draw water from the river.

In a public interest litigation, Prabakar said the State government was supplying nine lakh litres and 15 lakh litres of water daily to Pepsi and Coca Cola respectively at the rate of Rs 37.50 per 1000 litres. The petitioner said it was a sorry state of affairs that the same companies were selling their soft drinks and drinking water at an exorbitant rate.