Aarti Dhar

Kerala High Court's decision on cola ban very unfortunate, says CSE director

  • Soft drinks remain as unsafe as before: CSE
  • "States have no option but to impose ban to protect health of citizens"

    NEW DELHI: The Kerala High Court's decision to set aside the ban on production and sale of Coca-Cola and Pepsi in the State is unortunate, said the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

    "The Government has still not notified the safety norms and without these, the drinks remain as unsafe as before," said Sunita Narain, CSE director.

    In August 2006, the CSE released its study on soft drink brands sold across India. All samples it tested contained levels of pesticide residues much beyond the standard finalised (but not notified) by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). The CSE alleged that there was collusion between the Government and the soft drink industry, and hence this standard was not notified.

    Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss informed Parliament that the norms would be notified but did not indicate any time frame, Ms. Narain pointed out.

    The Kerala High Court set aside the ban on a technicality. But the problem, the CSE pointed out, was that the Centre had not framed the regulations, which would ensure that these drinks were safe. In the absence of this regulation, the States had no option but to impose a ban to protect the health of their citizens, Ms. Narain said.

    On August 22, Dr. Ramadoss told Parliament that the Government had tested two bottles of soft drinks and found no residues in them on the basis of which he reportedly gave a clean chit to these products. But the Government never made this report public.

    Dr. Ramadoss, on the other hand, had released the report of its expert committee commenting on the CSE study, Ms. Narain said. In this report, the points raised against the CSE study were copied verbatim from the report of a Coca-Cola sponsored study by the U.K.-based Central Science Laboratory. The CSE issued a point-by-point rebuttal to the Health Minister and his expert committee's `junk science', she said.