Plant can draw 5 lakh litres a day

KOCHI, JUNE 1. The expert committee constituted by the Kerala High Court to investigate into the allegations of over-exploitation of groundwater by the Coca-Cola bottling plant at Plachimada in Palakkad district has said that it can draw 5 lakh litres a day under normal rain fall conditions.

In its interim report submitted to the Bench comprising Justice Cyriac Joseph and Justice K. Padmanabhan Nair, the committee convenor, E. J. James, who is also the Director of the Kozhikode based Centre for Water Resource Development and Management (CWRDM), said the total ground water resource available in Chittur taluk was 66.7 MCM (million cubic metres). As per estimate, the balance groundwater resource available for use other than irrigation and domestic water supply in the taluk was about 4.2 MCM.

The report said it was probably realistic to limit the water drawn from a single location in Chittur to about 5 per cent of the balance amount or 0.21 MCM. The annual "gross ground water draft" required by the Coca-Cola factory was 5 lakhs litres per day (0.1825 MCM).

However, the committee added that it was to be "understood that this is true only under the normal rainfall conditions", since the assessment of groundwater resources had been made with reference to the mean and annual rainfall.

It further said "there will be scarcity of groundwater in those years when the rainfall is significantly less than the mean value." Therefore withdrawal of groundwater should be regulated during the years when the rainfall is less than the mean.

The report while referring to the rainfall recorded at the rain gauge maintained by the CWRDM at Chitturpuzha, said the monsoon season rainfall accounted for nearly 85 per cent of the annual rainfall. The balance 15 per cent of rainfall during the non-monsoon season falls mostly in April and May, as pre-monsoon showers. It was, therefore, reasonable to consider only the monsoon season rainfall for regulating the groundwater withdrawals.

The report said the withdrawal of water by the factory varied between 2.75 lakh litres to 5.04 lakh litres per day between January and March 2004.

Samithi activists to lay siege

to plant

The Plachimada Aikyadartya Samithi, an activist group supporting the ongoing agitation against the bottling plant, would lay siege to the plant on June 15 to press for its closure.

In a press release in Thiruvananthapuram, the samithi said it would create a `human chain' around the bottling plant on that day. The leader of the National Alliance of People's Movements, Medha Patkar, would inaugurate the agitation, the release said.