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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 December, 2003, 18:06 GMT
Indian court blow for Coca-Cola
Venkitesh Ramakrishnan
BBC correspondent in Trivandrum, Kerala

Indian protests against Coca Cola
Coca-Cola has suffered protests in India in recent months
Soft drinks giant Coca-Cola has been ordered to stop extracting ground water at a plant in southern India.

The High Court of the state of Kerala gave the firm one month to close its bore wells at the plant in Plachimada.

A village governing council had complained about overuse of water and had filed a writ challenging bottling operations.

However, the court also ruled that the council had no authority to close down the bottling plant.

National resource

Kerala High Court Justice K Balakrishnan Nair granted Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Limited one month to close down its wells and find an alternative source of water.

But the judge also directed the village council to renew the licence of the plant and restrained it from interfering with the functioning of the factory.

The council's writ had challenged an order by the state government that permitted the functioning of the bottling plant in the area.

The court observed that ground water was a national resource that belonged to the entire society.

It also pointed out that the Supreme Court had stated in earlier orders that underground water belonged to the public and the state should act as a trustee for its protection.

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