Tribunal for Plachimada victims

Forum will make Coca Cola cough up Rs 216.25 crore

By Savvy Soumya Misra
Published: Tuesday 13 July 2010

The Kerala state cabinet has set up a Plachimada Claims Tribunal to realise compensation of Rs 216.25 crore from Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages Company for the ecological damages it caused Plachimada village in Palakkad district of Kerala.

The tribunal was announced on June 30 in the wake the recommendations of a high powered committee, headed by chief secretary K Jayakumar. It will adjudicate disputes relating to compensation for the damage the company’s cola bottling plant caused in the village by over-exploiting the groundwater resources and discharging pollutants into the water. The sum is meant to compensate Plachimada residents for agricultural losses, health problems and loss of wages, among other things. The plant in Palakkad district was closed in March 2004 following a high court order and loud protests by Plachimada residents.

Kerala chief minister VS Achuthanandan announced the setting up of the tribunal in view of the recommendations of the Jayakumar report submitted in March 22, saying a tribunal would be needed to force Coca Cola to compensate people for polluting their water resources. “Attempts of Coca Cola to delay and subvert the decisions have been defeated. The government should now ensure that no more Plachimadas are allowed to happen,” said R Ajayan, convener, Plachimada Solitary Committee.

The committee report stated that ‘the compensation is not to be viewed as a quid pro quo for not initiating criminal charges. Therefore, Government may proceed against the company in accordance with various laws as it has violated a number of provisions.’

The high-level committee had also reported that the company had flouted the provisions of several acts, including Water Act of 1974, the Environment Protection Act of 1986, the Factories Act of 1948 and the Hazardous Waste Rules of 1989.

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