To Stop Production
By The Hindu
20 August, 2005
The Kerala State
Pollution Control Board on Friday ordered stoppage of production at
the Palachimada unit of the Coca-Cola Company in Palakkad district for
failure to comply with pollution control norms.
The Board observed
that the presence of cadmium in its sludge was 400 to 600 times above
the permissible limit. The company offered no explanation regarding
the source of cadmium.
The company, it
said, had also failed to fulfil satisfactorily the directive of the
Monitoring Committee deputed by the Supreme Court to distribute water
to the local population. It also did not carry out the directive, given
by the Board and the Committee, to set up modern facilities for purifying
the liquid effluents from the plant. The unit had been asked to set
up treatment facilities that used reverse osmosis or similar process.
The company had
been served show-cause notice by the Board on July 1. It was asked to
explain why the renewal of consent to operate sought by the company
should not be refused.
The Board said that
the closure notice was sent to Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Private
Limited on Friday, as explanations furnished by the company were not
satisfactory. The order comes within days of the company resuming production
on the strength of a High Court judgment in April lifting the conditional
ban on its operation imposed by the Government.
The local administrative
authority, Perumatty grama panchayat, had earlier refused licence to
the company. However, on appeal, the Government allowed it to operate
subject to conditions. The company then challenged the Government order
successfully before the High Court. The Board noted that the application
submitted to it by the company for renewing consent to operate was defective.
The changes in raw materials, production process, products, waste generation
and waste quality were not stated in the application. Cadmium was found
in the range of 200 to 300 milligram a kg of the sludge from the effluent
treatment plant. The observed concentration was much above the tolerance/permissible
limit for hazardous wastes. This categorically established that cadmium
bearing raw material or materials were used in the production process
or effluent treatment. The company had informed the monitoring committee
that the groundwater used by it was not contaminated. "Therefore,
the source of cadmium is some other raw material used by you; but your
application does not contain the particulars of the source of cadmium
and is, therefore, incomplete," said the Board.
The chairman of
the Board said in his order that its studies had shown that the groundwater
in the vicinity was contaminated on account of the existence of cadmium
in the effluent as well as the sludge. The company had capacity to store
the effluent from only one day's production. Its discharge without proper
treatment would pollute the groundwater.
He said that the
poisoning caused from the hazardous waste containing cadmium to the
well water of the nearby residents and the cadmium detected in the sludge
generated by the company established the direct nexuses between the
company and its poisoning capacity.
He rejected the
contention of the company that the Member Secretary of the Board was
prejudiced against the firm. No material had been furnished by the company
to substantiate the alleged prejudice.
Referring to the
order, Health Minister K. K. Ramachandran remarked in an official release
that no factory would be allowed to function in a manner affecting the
health of the people.
The Chairman said
that the order was without prejudice to the liability of the company
to supply drinking water to the affected population of the area, as
ordered by the Board earlier.
Copyright © 2005, The Hindu