The Madras High Court has quashed two PILs against supplying water to soft drink companies including Pepsi and Coca-Cola from the Thamirabarani river in Tirunelvelli. The court lifted its stay order from last November, stating water supply will not be curbed, reports ANI. While the petitioner accused Pepsi and Coca-Cola of using water for commercial gains, the companies promised to use only surplus water.
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The court decision comes a day after the deadline imposed by the Tamil Nadu Traders Union to boycott all soft drinks manufactured outside India. Retailers in Tamil Nadu had given up selling soft drinks Wednesday, instead endorsing native drinks and juices.
The decision to boycott aerated drinks was three fold – firstly given its adverse effect on health and secondly, for consuming excess water in the drought-prone state. Last, according to AP, traders are also pulling American brands off their shelves in protest of US animal rights group PETA’s opposition to Jallikattu, a traditional bull-taming sport.
According to president of the TN Traders Union, Vikrama Raja, nearly 70 per cent of stores in the state stopped sales on Wednesday. “Beverages like Coke and Pepsi have adverse effects on one’s health. They contain a lot of harmful substances, which we believe, will lead to deterioration in consumers’ health. We have been supported by students and certain others communities on this ban. We will ensure that the sale is completely stopped,” Raja was quoted as saying by ANI. He added that the soft drinks will be manufactured in India henceforth, replacing all products currently circulating in the market.
The Indian Beverage Association (IBA) has reacted to the boycott saying it is “deeply disappointed”, according to PTI. It said, “This is against the proven fundamentals of robust economic growth, and against the clarion call of Make in India,” it said. It added that “the products manufactured by Coca-Cola and Pepsi are of global standards and one of the safest available.”