The tribunal, on June 20, had allowed Coca Cola to resume operations at its Varanasi plant but restrained it from increasing its production from 600 bottles per minute till it gets clearance from the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA).
A bench of Justice U D Salvi directed CGWA to state what action it proposes in the matter and directed it to take instructions while listing the case for next hearing on September 2. "Senior counsel appearing for the appellant (Coca Cola) submits that they are no more interested in expanding the existing unit at the place in question and have accordingly communicated their intentions to the authorities vide letters dated August 23 addressed to the CGWA and August 22 to the Chief Secretary, state of Uttar Pradesh," the bench said.
According to the letter by the company, it had shelved the plan to expand its bottling plant citing "inordinate delay" in receiving clearance for the project from CGWA. "However, due to inordinate delay in receiving of the aforesaid NOC, causing delay in expansion leading to financial losses, we have decided not to pursue the expansion at Varanasi plant," Coca Cola India had said in a letter to Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary.
The tribunal was hearing the plea of Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt Ltd against an order issued by UP Pollution Control Board cancelling the NoC and the Consent to Operate (CTO) due to lack of required permission from CGWA, and directed it to shut down its Varanasi unit.
Coca-Cola, which started its bottling operations in Varanasi in 1999, had sought from UPPCB permission for expansion of its production capacity at its bottling plant in Mehdiganj village in Varanasi by introducing new bottling line.
A show cause notice was issued to Coca-Cola by UPPCB on April 23 on the ground that compliance in terms of CTO was not submitted. Coca-Cola, in its plea before the Tribunal, had contended that no permission is required from CGWA since the state government had already constituted State Ground Water Authority which granted due permission to it for extraction of ground water.