From: V.M. Thomas, Assocated Press
Published August 22, 2005 12:00 AM

State Environment Agency Tells Coca-Cola To Shut Plant in Southern India

COCHIN, India — The pollution control head of India's southern Kerala state said Friday he has ordered Coca Cola Co. to close one of its largest bottling plants in the country for failing to comply with environmental regulations.

G. Rajmohan, chairman of the state's Pollution Control Board, said he told the Coca Cola plant in Plachimada, a village in the southern part of the state, to shut down immediately because of pollution problems.

"The plant does not have an adequate waste treatment system and pollution from the plant is affecting the drinking water in adjacent villages," Rajmohan told The Associated Press. Company officials did not immediately react to the order.

The factory is one of the largest of Coca-Cola's 27 plants in India. It bottles mineral water and soft drinks, including Coca-Cola and Thums Up. The Kerala plant has long faced protests from the local Plachimada village council, which has accused it of depleting local groundwater and has refused to renew its license.

Rajmohan said the factory has been unable to disclose the cadmium content of its waste. The board issued a closure notice to Coca Cola on Friday, he said.

The plant was closed for nearly 16 months after the village council refused to renew its license. However, in June, the Kerala High Court rejected the council's plea for its permanent closure.

The council welcomed Friday's decision.

"We have been fighting for the closure of this plant for more than two years now. We are happy that the government is finally giving justice to the people who are affected by the plant," village council president A. Krishnan said.

Source: Associated Press

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