The Western Central Railways of India – constituting three divisions, namely Bhopal, Jabalpur and Kota – has banned the sale of all colas in over 300 of its stations.
This verdict was administered when the health certification on these cold drinks was found to have expired, and now, there is speculation that these drinks contain metals like cadmium and chromium. Hence, the Union Minister of the State (Health), Faghan Singh Kulaste, in the Lok Sabha lobbied to ban their sale at all stations until the drinks clear the tests.
"The cold drinks being sold at railway stations do not have the required certification from the health department. Till the time they get the certificate, the sale of these cold drinks has been banned," Sachin Shukla, Assistant General Manager, Western Central Railways, said, according to an article on India Today, adding, "The company's old permission has expired, and till the time they get fresh permission, the sale of cold drinks has been banned. Also, the health department is conducting tests on the contents of these drinks, and till the time this test report is out, fresh permission to sell these cold drinks will not be given."
The sale of all drinks - including the most popular ones like Pepsi, Coca Cola, 7Up, Sprite and Mountain Dew – has been curtailed, with immediate effect, as per the instruction of the Western Central Railways. Further, the suppliers have been advised to recall the stock that is already in circulation at the 300-odd stations while the inspections continue.
This is quite a blow to the cola giants, as recently, traders in Tamil Nadu also decided to stop sales of soft drinks manufactured by MNCs from 1 March and promote only Indian brands instead. However, this decision was politically motivated, and had little to do with the colas. It was in retaliation against PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals), also headquartered in the United States, because the former lobbied for the ban of Tamil Nadu's tradition Jallikattu, a festival in which bulls are rallied and tamed as sport. Thus, traders lashed out at other American MNCs as a sign of protest.