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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 August, 2003, 14:37 GMT 15:37 UK
No more cola for Indian MPs
By Ayanjit Sen
BBC correspondent in Delhi

Protestors in Calcutta
Protestors gathered in Calcutta to press for a total ban
The Indian Parliament is to stop selling Pepsi and Coca-Cola products in the canteen following reports that the drinks contain too much toxic pesticide and insecticide.

The government has also asked the Food Processing Ministry to provide a detailed report into the allegations made by a non-governmental organisation (NGO).

Both cola giants deny the allegations, and say that the products they make and sell in India match European and American standards.

But many people in Delhi say they have not drunk Coca Cola or Pepsi since hearing the reports.

Substitutes

Shambhu, a driver by profession, says he will not touch a drop of Pepsi or Coca Cola after hearing the reports.

"Since it is being claimed that these drinks are harmful for health, I have asked my family members and friends not to drink them," he said.

Pradeep Kumar Jain, a shop owner
Some vendors say sales of the drinks have fallen
He said lemon juice and plain cold water would make ideal replacements for the soft drinks.

Some people say the government should ban the drinks following the report issued by the Indian NGO - the Centre for Science and Environment.

Sharmila, a Delhi housewife, is one of them.

"The respite provided by cola in this sweltering heat can be compensated by even plain water but the lives of people cannot be put to risk," she said.

Geeta, who works in an advertising agency in Delhi, said she had French fries but no cola at the McDonald's in the busy Connaught Place area of central Delhi on Wednesday.

"Dil maange no more (the heart demands no more)," she said, referring to a popular Pepsi advertisement on television.

Echoing a similar view, a school student, Ekta, says her parents have not allowed her to drink cola.

Falling sales

But Atul, a college student, said he would have cola drinks despite these reports.

"Let these reports be first cross-checked. I cannot stay without having my glass of Pepsi," he said.

Man drinking bottle of lemonade next to Pepsi machine
Many people have been advising relatives to choose alternative drinks
Restaurants and shops selling these drinks say there was a drop in the sale of cola on Wednesday.

"Normally, I used to sell 25 bottles by the afternoon, but today, I have sold only five so far," said Pradeep Kumar Jain, a shop owner.

Rajat, a restaurant owner, said he had not taken delivery of any cola bottles for his restaurant after hearing the reports.

"Since people are also not asking for these drinks, we are offering lassi (butter milk)," he said.

But a local supplier of Pepsi bottles in the capital denied that demand has fallen.

Coca Cola and Pepsi account for more than 90% of the carbonated drinks market in India.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Sanjeev Srivastava
"Coke and Pepsi officials have come out with a strong denial"



SEE ALSO:
Indian colas 'not unsafe'
05 Aug 03  |  South Asia
Pepsi facility attacked in India
31 Mar 03  |  South Asia
Indian rebels target US cola
24 Mar 03  |  South Asia
Coke, Pepsi pay Himalayan fines
17 Sep 02  |  South Asia


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