Kerala to Make Coca-Cola Pay for Damages
KOCHI: Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan Sunday lashed out
at soft drink giant Coca Cola and said a tribunal will be set up to
recover the cost of socio-economic damages caused by a now-shut plant
of the company in the state.
Inaugurating a new unit of a state-owned public sector undertaking,
he said the management of the closed factory of Coca Cola at Plachimada
in Palakkad district had cheated the people of the state and the government.
"The sanction for them was given after it was found out that some
jobs would be created but the company cheated both the people and
the government," he said.
He said that his government will be setting up a tribunal to recover
the cost of the damages caused by the soft drink factory, through
its operations at Plachimada.
A nine-member expert panel headed by additional chief secretary K.
Jayakumar has put the cost of socio-economic damages caused by the
company at Plachimada at Rs.216.26 crore.
"The entire place has been seriously damaged and it has caused a loss
of more than Rs.200 crore and the place will take a very long time
to get back to its original shape," said Achuthanandan, referring
to the damage caused to the surroundings of the unit.
The bottling plant at Plachimada was set up in 1999 and the sanction
for the company to begin operations was given by then ruling Left
Democratic Front government under Communist veteran E.K. Nayanar.
Achuthanandan was the convenor of the front.
It started operations after public opposition and a series of court
cases and it closed down in 2004.
"The company had to pack up its bag and leave. It happened because
of a sustained campaign and also due to the stand taken by the court,"
said Achuthanandan, pointing to the legal battle over damages caused
by the unit.
The chief minister also hit out at a senior Kerala bureaucrat, without
naming any one, and said some officials find the policies of his government
Early this month, Industries Secretary and Additional Chief Secretary
T.Balakrishnan appeared to be in trouble with the Kerala cabinet asking
the chief secretary to inquire and submit a report on the statement
made by the former favouring Coca Cola.
Balakrishnan, who has been holding this post for the past five years,
kicked up a controversy at a seminar organized by the state-owned
Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation when he said that
Kerala is the only state in the country where the bottling plant of
Coca Cola was closed down and they were unable to do anything.
"Some people still favour the policies of the previous government,
but we are very clear... We have our own policies and that is why
such people lament against polices," said the chief minister.
FAIR USE NOTICE. This document contains copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. India Resource Center is making this article available in our efforts to advance the understanding of corporate accountability, human rights, labor rights, social and environmental justice issues. We believe that this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use,' you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.