Coca-Cola and Pepsi are facing further controversy in India. Having seen a boycott of their products and several attacks on their premises by Muslim activists in protest against the US military action in Iraq, both companies are now facing censure over their usage of water at their bottling plants in southern India.

The village council of Pudussery, a rural community in the Palghat region of Kerala, has revoked the water-use licence of the Pepsi bottling plant there because the demands of the plant had resulted in a general water shortage in the village. The licence had been due to last until 2005.

Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages, Coca-Cola's subsidiary in India, had a similar licence denied last month for its plant at the nearby village of Perumatty was denied a licence renewal last month on similar grounds. Coca-Cola lodged an appeal against the ruling with the Kerala High Court.

Both companies insist they have not overused water supplies. Pepsi said in a statement that a man-made lake in Pudussery and the company's ''rainwater harvesting system'' ensured that the community's groundwater reserves are replenished. Meanwhile, Hindustan Coca-Cola said studies had shown that its bottling operations had not affected groundwater levels.