The Supreme Court had, in 2005, issued notice to Coca Cola on an application by the Perumatty panchayat seeking to stay the decision of the Kerala High Court allowing the company’s Plachimada-based bottling unit to draw 5,00,000 litres of ground water per day.
The application sought to stay the Kerala High Court decisions of April 7 and June 1, 2005. The panchayat had argued that it had a right to refuse withdrawal of large quantities of ground water by Coca Cola, keeping in view the interests of agriculture and domestic consumers.
The High Court held in Coca Cola’s favour, permitting its bottling plant at Plachimada to draw groundwater not exceeding 5,00,000 litres a day.
The question whether local self-governing bodies like panchayats should be empowered with licensing powers and decide the future of industry continues to remain open in the Supreme Court.