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Coke India bottler fights site wrecking order

By Ben Bouckley+

27-Jan-2014
Last updated on 27-Jan-2014 at 15:57 GMT2014-01-27T15:57:10Z

Picture: Ruben Alexander/Flickr
Picture: Ruben Alexander/Flickr

Coke subsidiary Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages (HCCB) has filed a petition before a district magistrate challenging a government order demanding the destruction of a site in Northern India.

AFP reports that the local revenue administration ordered the demolition of the Mehdiganj plant in Varanasi, Utter Pradesh state, last month, claiming it was illegal since it was built on council land.

Coke’s anchor bottler in India told BeverageDaily.com that it had filed a revision petition before the District Magistrate challenging the Tehsildar’s order dated December 16 2013.

(A Teshildar is a district official in India in charge of revenues and taxation.)

“The matter is pending for hearing and we anticipate no action being taken by either side until the matter is heard,” HCCB said, where it claims to have documents proving its ownership rights.

‘We have all the approvals in place’

It added that Bharat Coca-Cola Bottling North East, subsequently merged into Hindustan Coca-Cola Bottling Southwest, bought the plant in Varanasi (with one 600 bottle/minute returnable glass bottle (RGB) line) from M/s Keririwal Beverages and operated it with all approvals in place.

Environmental protestors also accuse the Varanasi plant – which HCCB expanded last year – of using too much water, leading to local shortages, and pollution.

But the company insists it disposes of waste water and bio-solids from the site as per Pollution Control Board consent conditions, discharging into a drain 1.8km from the plant via a closed pipe.

Non-hazardous solid waste is removed from the site by the Pollution Control Board’s authorized scrap vendor, HCCB says, while hazardous waste is disposed of via a board-approved site in Kanpur.

Water efficiency up, but so is usage…

Data supplied by HCCB shows that its water usage ratio (the amount of water needed to produce one liter of product) has fallen from 2.89 liters in 2009 to 2.35 in 2012.

“Our water efficiency has improved year over year and [the] operation is a very small user of water compared to other water use groups,” HCCB said.

However, total water use in KL increased from 45,245 in 2009 to 56,882 KL in 2012, excepting a fall to 36,291 KL in 2011.

As part of Coke’s Bottling Investments Group (BIG), HCCB runs 24 bottling plants across India and covers around 65% of the Coca-Cola system in the country.

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