Farmers and youngsters of Thiunelveli district have joined hands to protest against the utilisation of water from Thamirabharani river to make soft drinks. The protest became active once again after the Madras High Court's verdict to lift the ban from Pepsi and Coca-Cola to use the river water for production of soft drinks.
In October 27, 2015, a major protest against the allotment of land for Pepsi Co. factory and to allow the usage of Thamirabharani river water turned ugly when a clash broke out between farmers/pro-Tamil groups and the police leaving many of the farmers wounded.
On November 21, 2016, the Madras High Court's Madurai branch ordered a stay on using the river water. While vacating the stay, the judges also inquired as to why the petition was filed only against these two companies leaving out the regional soft drink makers.
Unhappy with the court's verdict, farmers and students began to protest at the banks of the river. A group of the students jumped into the river raising slogans against Pepsi and Coke. They demanded that river Thamirabharani should be retrieved.
"Thamirabharani has been the life line of Thirunelveli. It was a shocker to know the court verdict was against us. We want Pepsi and Coke to be banned," said a protester.
"Those companies have said that they are only using surplus amount of water. If that's the case, why is it that our own government is bottling water and selling it. We have to stop this immediately and save the river," said Basheer, a student.
The people of Tamil Nadu, especially the farmers are in extreme distress after facing continuous drought and non-cooperation from neighboring states to share water. In such a situation , anything that feels like a threat to agriculture is considered as a major issue, for example the Hydrocarbon extraction project.