Coke seeks audience with JPC on quality standards

NEW DELHI OCT. 28. Coca Cola, one of the major brands at the centre of the controversy over the presence of pesticide residues in soft drinks, has requested for an audience with the Joint Parliamentary Committee which is looking into the issue of quality standards for soft drinks.

Ever since the JPC was set up two months ago, its Chairman, Sharad Pawar, has said that the committee is open to hearing anyone who have anything to say on the issues raised by the "expose" of the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment. Coca Cola's request for the audience follows the announcement made by Mr. Pawar at the end of the last round of hearings of the JPC on October 21 that the panel would visit Plachimada in Kerala's Palakkad district in December for an on-the-spot review of the allegations that the waste sludge supplied by the Coca Cola plant located there to farmers in the neighbourhood had a high concentration of the toxic cadmium metal and also look into complaints that advertisements released by the company in recent days "belittled" the potential health hazards of pesticide residues in soft drinks.

When contacted, the Coca Cola spokesperson acknowledged that a request had been sent to the JPC Secretariat two days ago for a chance to present its views. He, however, declined to comment on the reason for its decision.

Sources said the request could be taken up for consideration tomorrow, when the JPC begins its next round of hearings.

During the two-day sitting, it will hear the representatives of the Central Groundwater Board, the Environment Ministry, the Indian Council of Medical Research, the Central Pollution Control Board and the Association of Bottled Water Manufacturers.

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