Kerala, Karnataka governments ban colas
New Delhi, Aug 9: The Kerala and Karnataka governments today banned soft drinks in their states, even as cola giants unleashed a massive campaign assuring consumers that pesticide levels in their aerated drinks were well within the prescribed limits. While Kerala banned the sale and manufacturing of Coca Cola and Pepsi in the state, Karnataka prohibited the sale of soft drinks in the premises of hospitals and educational institutions, both government and private, following reports that the aerated drinks contained pesticide residues.
Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan told reporters after a Cabinet meeting that recent studies had shown that the soft drinks contained pesticide residues which were harmful to humans and the government decided to ban the sales and production of the fizzy drinks in the state.
Karnataka Health Minister R Ashok said the government had tested all the soft drinks in a laboratory and found pesticidal residues above the permissible limit. The government was considering to file a criminal case against all the soft drink companies under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act.
Asked if only these two brands of the companies were being banned, Mr Achutanandan replied in the affirmative and added more studies would be conducted to see if similar action should be taken against other products also. The Left Democratic Front had last week demanded the government ban these soft drinks.
Karnataka Primary and Secondary Education Minister Basavaraj S Horatti said the government would consult with legal experts and take a decision on imposing a total, state-level ban on the aerated drinks.
The cola giants today took out huge advertisments in various dailies claiming that the pesticide contents were well within the prescribed limits and were safe for consumption.
Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Punjab Vidhan Sabha Secretriat and Universities and schools across the country have already banned the sale of these drinks. The Jammu and Kashmir government had asked the people to avoid soft drinks. The Madhya Pradesh University has also banned the soft drinks on its campus.
Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) had recently, in a report, claimed that soft drinks majors Coca Cola and Pepsi contained pesticide residues in excess of the international standards.
The report triggered nationwide protests. Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr Anbumani Ramadoss had warned of severe action against Coca Cola and Pepsico if the report on the presence of pesticides in the soft drinks was found to be correct.
On August 4, the Supreme Court issued notice to Coca Cola and Pepsico along with the Centre on a PIL seeking an effective regulatory regime to check contamination of the drinks by highly toxic and addictive ingredients and the contents to be displayed on the bottle.
A similar study in 2003 by the same organisation briefly dented sales of the two companies' drinks when it reported levels of pesticide in excess of international standards.