Kerala

Mineral water bottling plant at Silent Valley shut down

Under pressure from environmentalists, the Forest Department, and the tribespeople living in the buffer zone of the Silent Valley National Park, the Palakkad district administration has issued an order closing down a mineral water bottling plant at Kallamala, near Mukkali. The plant has been functioning for the past one year flouting rules.

The order issued by Palakkad Collector P. Marikutty said the proceedings were in accordance with the Kerala High Court order issued during last November directing the district administration to decide on the future of J&J Mineral Water Company.

It is located in the buffer zone of the Silent Valley and marketed packaged drinking water and soda bottles under the brand Silent Valley. A copy of the order accessed by The Hindu said the decision was based on reports from the Silent Valley Wildlife Warden and project officer of the Integrated Tribal Development Programme in Attappady.

The Forest Department had argued that the plant was within 10-km radius of the Silent Valley National Park, which goes against the Union government’s declaration of eco-sensitive zones around national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.

The bottling plant also comprised a plastic pet bottle manufacturing unit that can pollute the pristine environment.

The Groundwater Department had contended that the plant would affect the drinking water situation in the region by overexploiting groundwater resources.

The decision also reflects collective opinion of the SC/ST Department, Pollution Control Board, Industrial Department, and the local grama panchayat.

The local grama panchayat said the company was causing drinking water scarcity in adjoining tribal settlements.

Collective effort

P.S. Panicker of environmental organisation Jana Jagratha, which took up the case to the High Court, said the decision was the culmination of a collective movement against the company that was causing alarming depletion of groundwater resources in the environmentally sensitive region.

Objections

When the proposal was made some years ago, the government and the district administration had raised objections with the District Collector submitting a report that the plant, planned on the banks of the Karuvarathode, a tributary of the Bhavani, near Mukkali, would affect the water table and cause serious ecological imbalance.

“Protecting the Silent Valley is the utmost priority of the government. No commercial interest will be allowed to take precedence over it,” the then Forest Minister Benoy Viswom had said, opposing the move.

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Printable version | Aug 7, 2020 6:26:00 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/Mineral-water-bottling-plant-at-Silent-Valley-shut-down/article14576622.ece

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