- SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
After a lull, the anti-Coke and anti-Pepsi agitation in the district is once again gaining momentum with various political parties and social organisations joining ranks in the fight against the cola giant.
During a weekly grievance day meet held at the Collectoarte on Monday, DMDK, CPI, CPI (M) and VCK representatives along with a few more outfits submitted a petition to District Revenue Officer M.G. Kulandaivel demanding that the deal with Pepsi be scrapped.
In the petition, they charged that the State government had agreed to give 36 acres of land worth about Rs. 15 crore in the open market to Pepsi “on lease at the rate of Re. 1 per acre” for 98 years and this amount would be “increased to Rs. 2 per acre” for the next two years. In other words, the State government had given 36 acres of land on lease to Pepsi for Rs. 3,672 for next 100 years, the petitioners alleged.
The government had also entered into an agreement with Pepsi for giving 15 lakh litres of Tamirabharani water a day to its upcoming plant at Gangaikondan Industrial Growth Centre at the cost of R. 3.7 per litre while the transnational beverage giant was selling one litre of drinking water for Rs. 20. “As the bottling plant of the multinational beverage giant is under construction, it will be completed soon to take 15 lakh litres of Tamirabharani water a day for its operations.
When this unit goes for expansion, this quantity will be increased to 1 crore litres a day,” said Kasi Viswanathan, CPI district secretary. Already the Coke’s manufacturing unit at this industrial complex was utilising 9 lakh litres a day and has plans to increase it to 18 lakh litres a day at the time of expansion. In this context, the State government’s deal with Pepsi will seriously affect farming operations in Tirunelveli and Tuticorin districts besides wiping out all drinking water projects.
Hence, the State government should scrap the deals, he said. The protesters said this was only a beginning of their joint protest against Coke and Pepsi which would continue till the two companies closed operations in Tirunelveli.