Taking serious note of alleged exploitation of groundwater by multinational cola giant Pepsi, a committee of the Kerala Assembly on Wednesday recommended imposition of curbs on extraction of water by the company’s plant at Pudussery in Palakkad district.
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.
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.
The report comes at a time when a high-level panel is finalising its report on “socio-economic” damage allegedly caused by the Coca Cola plant at Plachimada, also in Palakkad district, which has been declared as a drought-hit area.
He said the high-level committee headed by Additional Chief Secretary K. Jayakumar, is expected to submit the report soon.
Pepsi plant situated over an area of 53 acre uses nearly 48.5 per cent of the ground water, the report said.
Mr. 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 implementing 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.