Indian authorities have imposed a Rs 25 crore fine on Coca-Cola and PepsiCo for illegal extraction of groundwater.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has fined Moon Beverages and Varun Beverages, who seem to be liable for the production of Coca-Cola and PepsiCo goods, Rs 25 crore as environmental compensation after finding them guilty of misusing groundwater for bottling operations in Uttar Pradesh.
The NGT’s Bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel (Chairperson), Sudhir Agarwal and Brijesh Sethi (judicial members), and Prof A. Senthil Vel and Dr. Afroz Ahmad (expert members) decreed that the bottling plants were operating in breach of the CGWA’s (Central Ground Water Authority) environment law because they were extracting groundwater without the necessary NOC (No Objection Certificate), reports Live Law.
The Companies were also found liable of violating one of their licensing restrictions by failing to fulfill their groundwater recharge standards.
The Tribunal stated, in holding that PPs [Project Proponents] will have to pay compensation to recharge groundwater as per the conditions of NOCs:
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The NGT fined the Greater Noida plant [Moon Beverages Ltd] Rs 1.85 crore, the Coca-Cola facility in Sahibabad [Moon Beverage Ltd] Rs 13.24 crore, and Pepsi’s Greater Noida plant [Varun Beverages Ltd] Rs 9.71 crore.
The Tribunal singled out not only the bottlers, but also the government’s Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA), saying:
The Tribunal also noted that the Uttar Pradesh Ground Water Department (UPGWD) tried to confer a legitimate power on PPs in order to validate sustained groundwater extraction, despite the fact that they lacked such jurisdiction and had not conducted any inquiry or investigation into whether PPs had complied with previous NOC conditions.
As a result, the Tribunal determined that UPGWD contributed to and is accountable for environmental damage as a result of illegal groundwater abstraction, for which it may be held liable.
The Tribunal also established a joint committee of the CPCB, CGWA, UPGWD, and UPPCB to perform a study in the state of U.P. and arrange data of various classifications attempting to draw groundwater for commercial purposes, study impact assessment, recommend methods and modes to decrease groundwater extraction in OCS areas, and enhance groundwater level.
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