Kerala Government Calls Moves on Coca-Cola Bill 'Unconstitutional'
Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government today termed as "unconstitutional" the Centre's request to it to withdraw the bill for setting up a Special tribunal to recover from Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages Private Ltd compensation to people affected by pollution allegedly caused by its plant in Palakkad district.
Finance and Law Minister K M Mani stated this in the Assembly in a reply to a point of order raised on the Home Ministry's recent letter to state law department, asking to rescind the Plachimada Coca-Cola victims Relief and Compensation Claims Special Tribunal Bill, 2011.
Mani said the Governor has forwarded the bill to the President for approval. "The President can approve the bill or reject and inform the state about it," he said.
In the present case, the Home Ministry's request to withdraw the Bill unanimously passed by the state assembly was not in accordance with law, Mani added.
The assembly has the necessary power to pass such a bill for setting up tribunal, he said, adding it cannot withdraw the bill as per the Home Ministry's instructions.
While giving a ruling on the matter, Speaker N Sakthan asked the government to inform the Union Home Ministry that its request was not in accordance with law.
The bill passed in February 24, 2011 envisages setting up of a tribunal to try all disputes for compensation and secure it from Coco-Cola.
Coca-Cola closed down its unit at Plachimada in March 2004 following agitations by people,complaining of environment pollution and over exploitation of groundwater by the company.
The bill was brought forward after a high-level government -appointed committee to report the loss caused to the people estimated that Rs 216.25 crore was compensation due from the firm.
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