Coca-Cola to Hold Talks with Village Council, Community in Plachimada
The Hindu
April 9, 2005

PALAKKAD: Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Private Limited will hold discussions with the panchayat and local community before taking a decision on reopening the company in the wake of the Kerala High Court order allowing it to draw five lakh litres of ground water daily.

The company spokesman, Vikas Kochar, told The Hindu that the company would take the next step only after holding discussions with the people of the area and studying the High Court judgment in detail.

To move apex court

Meanwhile, the president of the Perumatty grama panchayat, A. Krishnan, said that the panchayat would move the Supreme Court against the High Court order. He said that fighting a case was a big financial burden for the panchayat, which has only meagre resources. The panchayat would, therefore, seek the help of other organisations to move the Supreme Court.

The Janata Dal secretary general, K. Krishnakutty, said that his party would help the tribals and the local community, who are spearheading the agitation.

He said that the High Court order had taken away the right of the panchayat to issue licence. This right of the local self-government was conferred through the 73rd Amendment of the Constitution. So both the Central and State Governments should go in for appeal against the High Court order to restore the right given to the panchayats under the Panchayat Raj system.

The panchayats were given the right over their natural resources like groundwater. But the High Court order has nullified this right of the panchayat. Hence in the interest of protecting the rights of the panchayats, the Governments should challenge the verdict, Mr. Krishnankutty said.

The Coca-Cola Virudha Samara Samithy leader, Velayodi Venugopal, said that they would intensify the agitation and prevent the company from functioning.

He wanted the State Government and the Perumatty panchayat to go in for appeal against the High Court order.

The Plachimada Solidarity Committee convener, R. Ajayan, said that a meeting of various organisations supporting the agitation would be convened soon to chalk out the next course of action.

Demonstration held

The tribals and Dalit community members who are spearheading the agitation in front of the factory at Plachimada took out a demonstration today urging the Government and the panchayat to challenge the High Court order. In Palakkad town, the activists of the Solidarity Youth Movement took out a march urging the judiciary to reconsider the verdict.

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