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Panchayat rejects Coke plea for fresh licence

PALAKKAD, MARCH 31. The Coca-Cola company's controversial plant at Plachimada has hit yet another roadblock with Perumatty panchayat, where the plant is located, turning down its appeal for a fresh five-year licence from April 1.

The company had halted its operations on March 9 after the Kerala High Court upheld a State Government order restricting it from drawing groundwater from the plant area till June 15 in view of the severe drought in the district.

According to the panchayat president, M.N. Krishnan, the local body had set three preconditions for allowing the multinational firm to continue operations, including that the plant should not draw groundwater from the region.

The company was asked to ensure that the sludge being discharged from the plant did not have toxic substances. It should also ensure that the Coke products also did not contain toxic elements.

The panchayat board, which met on March 29, refused to issue a fresh licence to the Coca-Cola plant though the company representatives argued that the report of the Joint Parliamentary Committee that probed the issues had not found that its products had toxic elements.

The Coca-Cola officials termed as `unilateral' the panchayat's attitude to them as 20 other companies were functioning in the region utilising groundwater.

Mr. Krishnan, however, said the local body was prepared to review its decision if the company accepted all the three conditions. _ PTI

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