Pepsi plant indicted for polluting groundwater in Kerala

Published: Monday 31 December 2007

pepsi pollutes and it's official now. A recent study by Kerala's groundwater department has traced toxic chemicals in the groundwater at the Pepsi plant in Pudussery panchayat in the arid Palakkad district. The report says the factory has exploited groundwater resources and it can't be allowed to draw more than 234,000 litres of groundwater per day. The present allotted water intake is 600,000 litres.

The committee was formed in April 2007 under the direction of the Kerala high court on a Pepsi petition against the panchayat's decision to revoke its licence. The committee has asked the Kerala Pollution Control Board (pcb) to take action to prevent the contamination.

Analysing water samples from the factory site, the committee has found presence of calcium, magnesium, chloride and sodium in them. Though the chemical content in the effluents released by the plant is within pcb limits, the committee has found they seep into groundwater due to unscientific management of effluents.

The company says it disposes the solid waste according to the directions of pcb. But the committee says the factory keeps the waste in a temporary uncovered shelter and chemicals seep into the groundwater during rain. Recently, a chemical analysis of the pcb found the solid waste contained heavy metals such as lead and cadmium.

Pepsi holds about 22 hectares (ha) in the 300 ha industrial estate and extracts 48 per cent of the groundwater in the area. Groundwater is the only source of water for production for the company which has dug seven bore wells. Studies show groundwater flow in the area is directed towards the factory site. "We want Pepsi to close down its factory because over 45,000 people in this panchayat are affected and groundwater is our only water source," says K Suresh, panchayat president. Chief minister V S Achuthanandan says the government is looking into the report.

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