Statement on Court Stay Order on Coca-Cola Closure Notice
Old Bottling Plant Can Temporarily Resume Operations Until Further Hearings
June 20, 2014
New Delhi: Coca-Cola’s Indian bottling plant in Mehdiganj, Varanasi, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India has today been provided interim relief pending appeal, which it was seeking from the National Green Tribunal.
The National Green Tribunal has ordered a stay, pending the Appeal, on the June 6, 2014 order of the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board which shut down the Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Private Limited bottling plant in Mehdiganj.
The stay applies only to Coca-Cola’s older bottling plant, which can now temporarily resume operations until the next hearing of the appeal.
The National Green Tribunal has also restricted Coca-Cola from conducting “any activity with regard to the expansion of the existing industry.”
Coca-Cola has applied to expand its ground water withdrawal five-fold and has completed construction of the expansion and conducted trial runs.
The National Green Tribunal has also ordered the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board to monitor and supervise the production of Coca-Cola until the next hearing.
The interim relief granted by the National Green Tribunal to Coca-Cola was expected by the community leaders and campaigners, who are seeking permanent closure of the existing plant and a rejection of Coca-Cola's expansion plans.
It is important to note that the order of the National Green Tribunal today is not a final judgment on the matter and it does not rule on the merits of the case.
The conduct of Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Private Limited, which is being challenged by the state government authority, the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board, and the central government agency, the Central Ground Water Authority (which was made a party by the National Green Tribunal), is now scheduled to be heard by the principal bench of the National Green Tribunal on August 5, 2014.
The state and central government agencies which are parties in this case are expected to make legal arguments before the National Green Tribunal before any final orders are passed in the matter.
According to the National Green Tribunal’s order today,
“The Appellant has made a prime facie case for stay of the impugned order only in respect of the existing industry. Under such circumstances pending the Appeal, the order of UPPCB has to be stayed only in respect of the operation of the Appellant’s industry which has been manufacturing 600 bottles per minute and in other respect the order of closure is not disturbed. It is also made clear that pending consideration of the application by the Appellant by the Central Ground Water Authority the Appellant is restrained from doing any activity with regard to the expansion of the existing industry.
The UPPCB is also directed to monitor and supervise the production of the Appellant industry until further orders are passed.”
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