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Thursday, 22 August, 2002, 15:52 GMT 16:52 UK
Coke 're-paints' Himalayas yellow
Coke logo on the Himachal Pradesh mountains
The mountains are protected by environmental laws
Soft drink giants Coca Cola and Pepsi, slammed last week over the painting of their logos on Himalayan rocks, are facing fresh condemnation over efforts to remove the ads.

The Indian Express newspaper has shown a picture on its front page of yellow paint covering a Coke advertisement which had been painted on a rock in the Himalayas.

Pepsi logo on the Himachal Pradesh mountains
The paper claimed the companies were trying to hide their logos merely by painting over them.

Last week, India's Supreme Court asked the two companies to explain why their advertisements were painted on the rocks.

The advertisements are spread along over 50 kilometres of highway in the spectacular Manali-Rohtang pass in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh.

Officials at both Pepsi and Coca-Cola India told the newspaper they had no knowledge of the rocks being repainted.

Environmental damage

The rocks are covered by mosses which support a sensitive ecosystem of micro-organisms.

The court ordered the government-run National Environment Engineering Research Institute (Neeri) to inspect a stretch of road to examine "the damage to the ecology caused by the advertisements of Coca Cola and Pepsi... and to suggest what remedial measures can be undertaken."

Removal of the advertisements with paint thinner is expected to cause further environmental damage.

Both companies have denied responsibility and claimed local franchisees had authorised the advertisements without head office consent.

The companies have until 2 September to responded to the Supreme Court.

High jinx

A number of Indian firms had also painted their logos on the rocks in the Rohtang pass, which is 3,915 metres above sea level.

The pass has become increasingly polluted as tourists flock there between July and October, when the snow has melted, and leave behind their garbage.

The route through the Himalayas has been used for centuries by traders in northern India, Central Asia and China.

See also:

21 Aug 02 | UK
21 Aug 02 | South Asia
15 Aug 02 | Business
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