ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Plachimada Again

The expert panel's recommendations on compensation may be a case of too little, too late.

The expert panel formed by the Kerala government to investigate the damages caused by the Coca-Cola plant in Plachimada has finalised its report and this would have been submitted to the government for further action by the time these columns appear in print. According to media reports, the nine-member panel will be recommending that the government of Kerala should get Coca-Cola to pay Rs 200 crore as compensation for groundwater depletion and pollution caused by the working of its plant. The panel has also asked the government to set up a tribunal which would decide on who gets how much compensation.

In a way, this brings to a close a decade-long agitation against the soft-drink factory in Plachimada. Coca-Cola started operations here in 1999, using groundwater to produce its aerated drinks and juices. What is worse, there was a visible and steep increase in groundwater pollution after this plant started working. Not only was well water made totally unfit for drinking, it was found to be so highly acidic and full of toxins that it was unusable for agriculture or even for washing clothes. In short, a few years of the operation of the Coca-Cola plant had turned the local groundwater into poison.

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