The Uttarakhand government has proposed 75 acres land to beverage giant Coca Cola in the Sitarganj industrial area in Udham Singh Nagar district, an official said on Friday.
This move comes after the land allotted to the beverage bottling plant in Dehradun district was caught in a legal tangle.
“Coca Cola representatives have demanded 70 acres land elsewhere. We have reserved 75 acres land for the company in the Sitarganj industrial area,” SL Semwal, the general manager of State Industrial Development Corporation of Uttarakhand (SIDCUL), told Hindustan Times.
Semwal said the company was yet to complete formalities and once they are done that “the land will be formally allotted to them”.
On April 17, 2013, the state government had inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of Coca Cola India Pvt Ltd to set up a bottling plant at Chabra village in Dehradun district.
The company was allotted 60 acres land in the village. Activists, including Vandana Shiva opposed the government’s decision, saying the proposed plant would “exploit” the water source from the nearby Yamuna River besides felling of hundreds of trees in the village.
The protests snowballed and the issue went to the high court. In April 2014, the court directed the government to return the land to the villagers.
Since the past year, the State Industrial Development Corporation of Uttarakhand Ltd (SIDCUL) has been looking for an alternative land for the bottling plant.
Though Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages in a statement to HT, said the state government had not proposed to give any land to them, Semwal said once formalities were completed, the land will be formally allotted to the company.
“We are in discussions with the government of Uttarakhand to invest in a Greenfield bottling plant in the state. Currently we have not been allotted or proposed any land parcel in Uttarakhand to comment on,” said a company spokesperson in a statement.
Interestingly, the bottling giant is yet to ink a fresh agreement with SIDCUL, but officials in the corporation estimate that the company will invest Rs 1,000 crore in the plant. The company had earlier promised to invest Rs 600 crore in proposed plant in Dehradun district — which, however, did not happen. Sources said SIDCUL has considered land for cola bottling plant at Sitarganj considering the availability of water from three water reservoirs — Dhora, Baigul and the Nanak Sagar Dam.
Meanwhile, BS Koshyari, the member of parliament from Nainital’s Udham Singh Nagar — where the bottling plant is to be setup — has questioned the government’s intention.
“(The) government is least bothered about rehabilitation of disaster-hit people of the area but is interested in inking deals with big multinationals,” he said.