PepsiCo chief Indra Nooyi meets PM Modi amid furore in Tamil Nadu, Kerala

PepsiCo Chairperson Indra Nooyi on Thursday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and offered the multinational giant's participation in the government's efforts to uplift the lot of Indian farmers.

PepsiCo Chairperson Indra Nooyi on Thursday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and offered the multinational giant's participation in the government's efforts to uplift the lot of Indian farmers.

"I shared with Prime Minister Modi, PepsiCo is well positioned to help the government deliver on the national development goals he has outlined for farmers and supporting their livelihoods,'' she said in a statement.

Nooyi further said: ``The Prime Minister and I had an engaging dialogue on how PepsiCo is making investments to grow, process and use more Indian-grown fruit for juice in our sparkling beverages. She also said they discussed on how PepsiCo is focusing on new health-oriented products with local recipes.

"We also discussed our launch of new Quaker Oats products that take traditional recipes and add in whole grain Quaker Oats to help Indians start their day in a healthy way,'' Nooyi added.

PepsiCo along with Coca Cola has been under fire for its sugary drinks which are seen as a major cause of obesity and diabetes due to the large quantities in which they are consumed.

With increasing awareness, Governments have cracked down with high taxes to discourage the consumption of these aerated drinks. The colas have even been banned in schools in the metros.

However, there is growing fear that the multinational giants are pushing their sugary drinks to smaller towns and developing countries to offset the drop in sales in the bigger cities and advanced nations.

Nooyi's trip also comes at a time when Tamil Nadu and Kerala are up in arms against the Cola giants as they use to much of scarce water which the farmers claim they need for irrigation.

COLA GIANTS WIN CASE IN HIGH COURT

However, on Thursday the Madras High Court allowed Coca Cola and Pepsi to draw water from a river in Tamil Nadu for their bottling plants but the lifting of the ban triggered protests by locals who stood knee-deep in the river.

The order came amid a call by the Traders Federation in Tamil Nadu to ban sales of Coca Cola and Pepsi that came into effect Wednesday with its President A M Vikrama Raja declaring the aerated drinks as 'toxic' for consumption.

In a major relief for the Cola majors, the Madurai bench of the court gave them permission to draw water from the Thamirabarani river for their bottling plants in Tirunelveli district for manufacturing soft drinks besides packaged drinking water.

Dismissing a PIL filed by D A Prabakar, a consumer activist, and one Appavo, a Division Bench of Justice A Selvam and Justice P Kalaiarasan lifted the ban earlier imposed by the court on the firms for drawing water from the river. The court had given the interim injunction in November last year.

The soft drinks companies sought a direction on lifting the ban on the ground that they were using only the surplus water. It was contended that drawing of water for the bottling plants of these companies deprived farmers of their livelihood, who were unable to take up farming activities. The companies paid only 37.50 paise per 1,000 litres of water extracted.