An MoU between multi-national beverage giant Coca Cola and Uttarakhand government to set up a Rs. 600 crore bottling plant in the district has triggered protests by environmentalists who claim the project would adversely impact the hill state's fragile ecology.
Noted environmentalists Avdhash Kaushal, Anil Prakash Joshi, Vandana Siva and Chandiprasad Bhatt have vehemently opposed the proposed plant to come up on 60 acres of land in Charba village of Dehradun district.
Residents of Charba village have also begun protests against the proposed project and have demanded that authorities desist from cutting down trees for the plant.
The activists have warned that such bottling plants, wherever they come up, cause irreparable damage to the environment.
They have asked the state government to constitute a high-level committee to study the environmental impact of such plants being run by the multinational company at 24 different locations across the country.
The activists have also asked the state government to find out how these plants had been of benefit to local people.
The government has, however, dismissed the apprehensions.
"We will ensure (the company) takes all the mandatory clearances, including the environmental ones, before beginning the process of setting up its plant," Principal Secretary (Industries), Rakesh Sharma said.
He said the plant would initially need only 50,000 to 2,00,000 litres of water for its operations and would make use only of river water and not underground water resources as was widely feared.
Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of Coca Cola India Pvt Ltd, on Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding with the state government to set up the Rs. 600 crore plant expected to boost industrial growth in the state.
"We preferred (Dehradun) since it's strategically located. With this plant, we will be able to strengthen our network in the north," Patrick George, Coca Cola senior vice-president (supply) had said at the signing of the MoU.
He also said the company would recruit 750 to 1,000 employees for which it would give preference to locals.
Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna, who had earlier claimed that his government was trying hard to attract industrialists to the state, said the Coca Cola plant was a big step forward in that direction.