In order to give support for Local products and Indian Cola traders, Tamil Nadu’s two top associations of traders have banned the sale of Pepsi and Coca-Cola.
The associations say that these two big soft drinks firms use too much water from rivers, leaving farmers harassed at a time of severe drought when they are unable to irrigate their land.
The petition was filed Tirunelveli District Consumer Protection Association secretary DA Prabhkar, argued that the beverage makers were drawing water at subsidized rates, and leaving farmlands parched.
But The Madras High Court suppressed the petition filed to prohibit water supply to multinational cola makers Pepsi Co and Coca-Cola in Tamil Nadu, while the retailers of the state stopped selling their beverages.
While the move is seen as a nationalistic measure to support Indian beverage manufacturers by prohibiting foreign companies, the Court give back water supply for continued production, of what trade associations called unhealthy beverages, which was liable for the diminishing water level in the state’s rivers.
The Indian Beverage Association (IBA) which represents most soft drinks makers said it was disappointed with the ban.
In reply to this, The IBA said the ban “was against the proven fundamentals of robust economic growth”. , ,
“Coca-Cola and PepsiCo India together provide direct employment to 2,000 families in Tamil Nadu and more than 5,000 families indirectly. They also play a major role in refining the livelihood of over 2 lakh retailers, who earn more than Rs. 400 crores in income by selling products manufactured by the two companies. IBA hopes that good sense will prevail and that consumers will continue to have the right to exercise their choice in Tamil Nadu,” it said.
Two major trade bodies – the Federation of Tamil Nadu Traders Associations (FTNTA) and the Tamil Nadu Traders Associations Forum (TNTAF) – said they proposed the ban after seeing young people coming out in huge numbers last month against a ban on the local bull-taming festival, jallikattu.
“Drinks like Pepsi and Coca-Cola are not good for your health because of their high sugar and chemical content. We are promoting Indian soft drinks, and will encourage better sales of fruit juices,” he said.
“We started the campaign against soft drinks several months back. But it gained momentum when we extended support to the pro-jallikattu movement,” Tha Vellaiyan, president of FTNTA, told BBC Tamil.
The associations have also insisted hotels, supermarkets, and restaurants to trail the ban and “help local businesses and farmers prosper”.
Experts said that the ban can have a mixed impact. “The logic is flawed because even Indian drinks would need water… It also becomes the battle between the small drinks-maker (Indian companies) and larger multi-nationals. However, any such movement should be started by consumers, and not by the traders,” said brand consultant Harish Bijoor.
Pepsi and Coca-Cola have not put their remarked on the ban yet.