An Open Letter to Shashi Tharoor

14 February 2009

An Open Letter to Shashi Tharoor

You are aware that Coca Cola plant at Plachimada, Palakkad in your native State of Kerala has been shut down since 2004 as they failed to get the requisite licenses from the Kerala Pollution Control Board and the Perumatty Panchayat. The primary reasons for this are:

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  • Coca Cola polluted the ground water with deadly toxic and carcinogenic cadmium and lead which Coca Cola does not list under "raw materials" and refuse to provide an explanation for their presence
  • Coca Cola distributed and spread around these deadly toxic and carcinogenic cadmium and lead through their waste sludge and slurry under the guise that these are good soil nutrients
  • Coca Cola did not supply piped water to the affected families as ordered by the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee on Hazardous Waste
  • Coca Cola, as the single most largest extractor of ground water extracting at the highest rate, largest transporter of water to the outside through softdrinks, a non-essential luxury good, contributed the largest to the depletion of ground water

The anti Coca Cola struggle launched in 2002 in Plachimada by primarily the Adivasis and Dalits, is the longest popular struggle in the history of Kerala supported by the widest sections of the people of Kerala and of all political hues.

You may be aware that protests have been going on elsewhere in the country against many other Coca Cola plants as in Mehdi Ganj and Kala Dera for similar destruction of environment, water and livelihoods. You may also be aware about the allegations against Coca Cola for getting its own workers assassinated in Columbia through the drug mafia which was to be enquired into by ILO. Coca Cola products were also indicted by Centre for Science & Environment, New Delhi, for producing and selling bottled water and softdrinks with pesticide and other contaminants. Latest in the series is the $7.59 million penalty that Coca Cola agreed to pay in February 2009 to the City of American Canyon in Napa County, USA, for violations in wastewater treatment permit since 2005 till May 2008 that resulted in high concentrations of contaminants that interfered with the City's wastewater treatment process and posed an environmental hazard.

A former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, author, writer-columnist and an advisor to several institutions and reportedly nurturing political ambition, it is with shock and dismay that we, in your native Kerala, have to see you as a Member of the Advisory Board of Coca-Cola India Foundation[1]. We condemn your insensitivity and unconcern to align with the criminal Coca-Cola against the people of PLACHIMADA.

VELUR SWAMINATHAN,SECRETARY, Plachimada Adivasis Samrakshana Sangham
R.AJAYAN, CONVENER, Plachimada Samara Aikyadhardya Samithy

[1] http://www.cokefacts.com/PressCenter/Press_Release_Coca-Cola_India_Foundation_set_up_4th_Dec_07.pdf

In a press release from New Delhi dated December 3, 2007: […..] setting up of Cocaa-Cola India Foundation […]This Foundation with an initial corpus off USD 10 million would focus on a range of activities including water, the environment, healthy living and social advancement.” Mr. Muhtar Kent, President and COO, The Coca-Cola Company […] The advissory board members of the Foundation include Mr. Justice J. S. Verma, Former Chief Justice of India and Chairman National Human Rights Commission, Dr. Mithu Alur, Founder/Chairperson, Spastics’ Society of India and The National Resource Centre for Inclusion, Mr. Javed Akhtar, Poet, lyricist, script writer and social activist, Mr. Shashi Tharoor, Author and international civil servant, Mr. Bunker Roy of Barefoot College, Dr. Naresh Trehan, cardiologist and opinion leader, Mr. Roshan Seth, Actor, socialite and theater personality, Dr. (Mrs.) Shyama Chona, Principal, Delhi Public School. Mr. Yogesh Chandra is the CEO of the Foundation.

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