Kerala Government Assures Proactive Action Against Coca-Cola
Meeting with Community Leaders Ends in Major Commitments from
For Immediate Release
June 19, 2006
R. Ajayan, Plachimada Solidarity Committee (India) Tel: +91 9847142513
Amit Srivastava, India Resource Center (US) Email: amit(AT)IndiaResource.org
Tel: +1 415 336 7584
Trivandrum (June 19, 2006): In a major breakthrough for the campaign to hold Coca-Cola
accountable, the newly elected state government of Kerala has assured
community leaders that the government will take proactive measures
against the Coca-Cola bottling plant in south India.
Key community leaders met with the Chief Minister, Mr. V. S. Achutanandan,
and cabinet members on June 15 and submitted a memorandum outlining
their demands, including the permanent shut down of the Plachimada
bottling plant, compensation to affected community members and the
prosecution of the Coca-Cola company for criminal offences. The meeting
resulted in significant commitments from the state government towards
resolving the crisis.
The election of the new government in Kerala has been received with
cautious optimism. Mr. Achutanandan has been an outspoken critic of
the Coca-Cola company during his role as the leader of the opposition.
Coca-Cola's bottling operations in Plachimada have created severe
water shortages for the community and the groundwater and soil have
been polluted, resulting in further hardships to the community.
The Coca-Cola bottling plant in Plachimada has remained shut down
since March 2004 because of the widespread community opposition to
the plant and the company has suffered a series of setbacks in its
attempts to re-open the factory. The Kerala Pollution Control Board
issued a stop order notice in August 2005 because of high levels of
cadmium and lead in and around the plant.
The state government of Kerala has also challenged Coca-Cola's right
to extract water to the Supreme Court of India, arguing that water
is being taken from poor communities to produce drinking water for
During the meeting with Chief Minister Mr. V. S. Achutanandan and
cabinet members, the delegation from Plachimada received a number
of assurances from the government including:
"We are hopeful that we will see the logical conclusion to the Coca-Cola
company's crimes with actions from the new government in Kerala,"
said R. Ajayan of the Plachimada Solidarity Committee.
"The Kerala state government's pronouncements are welcome. We are
committed to working with the community in Plachimada to ensure that
the state officials live up to their words," said Amit Srivastava
of the India Resource Center, an international campaigning organization.
The delegation from Plachimada struggle consisted of Veloor Swaminathan,
Mylamma, Vilayodi Venugopal and Mariappan of the Anti Coca-Cola Struggle
Committee and R. Ajayan of the Plachimada Solidarity Committee.
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- Mr. V. S. Achutanandan, the Chief Minister, will work closely
with the groups in Plachimada to take necessary steps to resolve
the problems associated with the Coca-Cola bottling plant.
- Mr. Mullakara Ratnakaram, the Minister for Agriculture, will
constitute an expert committee to assess the impacts of water
shortages and pollution on farmers and the community.
- Ms. P.K Sreemathy, the Minister for Health and Family Welfare,
who is also in charge of the Kerala State Pollution Control Board
(KSPCB), issued directions to the Director of Health Services
to conduct a comprehensive health camp as an interim measure.
Ms. Sreemathy said she would hold discussions with the Law Department
and KSPCB to explore the possibility of framing criminal charges
against the company under appropriate provisions.
- Mr. Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, the Home Minister, issued directions
to withdraw all criminal cases against hundreds of community members
involved in the campaign.
- Mr. A.K. Balan, Minister for Welfare of Backward & Scheduled
Communities, committed to exploring criminal litigation against
the Coca-Cola company because of the pollution caused by the company
which has disproportionately affected Backward & Scheduled Communities.
- Mr. M. Vijayakumar, the Law Minister, will appoint a Special
Prosecutor in the Supreme Court of India to specifically support
the state government's appeal challenging the Coca-Cola company's
right to extract water.
- Mr. N.K Premachandran, the Water Resource Minister, will follow
up with further action on the notification of Chittur Taluk, where
Plachimada is located. In November 2005, the Kerala government
declared the area of Plachimada as "over-exploited" in water resources,
and as a result, all industries have to obtain additional clearances
from the government to draw groundwater.
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