The National Green Tribunal has extended its stay on the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) order for shutting down Coca Cola's Varanasi unit on the issue of use of ground water. The tribunal, on June 20, had allowed beverages giant Coca Cola to resume operations at its Varanasi plant but restrained it from increasing its production from 600 bottles per minute till it gets a clearance from the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA).
A bench of Justice U D Salvi extended the stay after CGWA informed the tribunal that the recommendations to consider the grant of consent to expand has been forwarded to the competent authority. "...already considerable time has passed since the meeting was held and earlier decision in the matter would bring about end to the controversy expeditiously. "List the matter for hearing on August 25, with a hope that the CGWA takes a final decision in the matter of application moved by the applicant for expansion of its industry...Interim order to continue," the bench said.
The tribunal was hearing the plea of Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt Ltd against an order issued by UPPCB cancelling the NoC and the Consent to Operate (CTO) due to lack of required permission from CGWA, and directed it to shut down its Varanasi unit.
Coca-Cola, which started its bottling operations in Varanasi in 1999, had sought from UPPCB permission for expansion of its production capacity at its bottling plant in Mehdiganj village in Varanasi by introducing new bottling line. A show cause notice was issued to Coca-Cola by UPPCB on April 23 on the ground that compliance in terms of CTO was not submitted. Coca-Cola, in its plea before the Tribunal, had contended that no permission is required from CGWA since the state government had already constituted State Ground Water Authority which granted due permission to it for extraction of ground water.