By Debanjoli Nandi
Chennai, March 3: It has been two days since March 1, the date from which the unofficial ban on Coke/Pepsi was supposed to come into effect, but soft drinks manufactured by the leading MNC cola companies are still being sold by a lot of traders across the city.
However, a closer look reveals that most of these shops are still struggling to liquidate the old stock,.
“ We are planning to sell Bovonto, and products by Kalimark once this stock is over. There are space constraints. Otherwise we would have introduced fruit juice”, revealed Vishan, an employee at Rdhavendra bakery.”
With reference to the strong patriotism attached to the idea, a shopkeeper at Kotturpuram said,” We will promote Indian brands. Wholesalers at Coimbed have already stopped selling coke.”
Sofa, the cashier at Graphics snacks is also on the same page.
But there are a lot of shop owners who ,oblivion to the health hazards posed by these soft drinks, are still bringing in new stocks.
Peruml,owner, Shri Murugan stores said,” We have been supplied with a new stock today itself. “
New stocks will be braught in, revealed the shopkeeper of Talapati at Tea-Nagar.
Though the leading traders’ association is supporting the local brands, reality is these brands have not yet clicked with consumers.
“There has been a 10% drop in sales. This stock came 20 days ago. There is no sale for Bovonto either. We have been selling only fruit juice,” said a worker at Fruit Juice Corner, T.Nagar.
However, there are many shops like Bon chocolate co. and Sree Guru which have permanently stopped selling Pepsi and Coca-Cola. “We have been selling badam milk”, said Gopika, owner ,Sree Guru.
However, some have raised doubts about the viability of the proposed ban.
With reference to the people who have still been consuming these soft drinks made by the leading cola companies, Pradeep, one of the owners of Ambur Biriyanis, said, “Sales are down by 50-60%. But there is no written law. Even if I stop selling these beverages, people will head towards some other shop. People have to stop drinking these beverages. Even Bovonto is not good. It contains hydrated nitrogen acid, caffeine and artificial colours.”
And the lesser-known fact is if a shop stops selling soft drinks manufactured by the leading cola brands, the refrigerator used for storing the products, will eventually go back to those companies.
“ If we stop selling Pepsi/other similar products, we will make arrangements for selling fruit juice,” he added referring to the refrigerator issue.
“ Abhishek Singh’s Man Pasand might be introduced in the state. Talks are on. We have been protesting against these cola brands since 1998. It has been confirmed these drinks contain toxic elements.But then the youth didn’t support. Now they are supporting. They are looking for alternatives. So we are supporting the local brands. 70% (10.5 lakh)of all the 15 lakh shops in Tamil Nadu have already stopped selling coke. The old stock will have been liquidated by 20 days. Then the sale will become zero. We will talk to the shop owners in person and make sure there is no sale further,” said AM Vikramaraja, President, Tamil Nadu Traders’ Association.
However, even if the small and the medium shops refrain from selling coke, people head towards the hotels where these drinks are available in plenty.
“ The traders’ association has proposed a ban but the Chennai Hotel Assoiciation hasn’t,” claimed Raja, a cashier at Hotel Virudhunagar Aiyanar.
In order to protect people from the ill-effects of these soft drinks, the ban should be imposed by the government itself- this is what Arun Bhaskaar, an active participant in the Jallikattu protest, thinks.
He said, “These foreign cola companies use our water, our land. They destroy our water resources. Even Madras High Court has asked a village to release water for them. KFC, MackDonald’s are still selling these drinks. Only 5-10% are raising their voices. Sale of these drinks should be stopped by the government. This is not a ban.”
However, a press release released by the Indian Beverage Association, declares efforts are on to prove both Coca-Cola and Pepsi are fit to drink.