Coca-Cola Issue Discussed in Parliament
The Hindu
April 30, 2005

NEW DELHI: The Plachimada controversy involving allegations of over exploitation of ground water by the Coca-Cola Company came up in the Lok Sabha on Friday with the leader of the Janata Dal (S) Parliamentary Party, M.P. Veerendra Kumar, urging the Government to support the Perumatty Panchayat in its legal battle against the multinational company in the Supreme Court. Raising the issue during zero hour, Mr. Kumar said: "The time has come to place restrictions on MNCs which use ground water as their sole raw material in large quantities to make aerated, mineral and sweetened bottled waters."

The MNCs, which sold water and made huge profits, were equated with the common man who demanded drinking water. "The individuals and the huge corporate are treated in the same level, which is unjust," he said.

Mr. Kumar drew the Government's attention to the "alarming situation" in Plachimada in the Perumatty Panchayat of Palakkad district where there was "acute shortage of drinking water" due to the over exploitation of ground water by Coca-Cola.

In the area where the company was situated, the land was polluted and the water contaminated. The entire agricultural operations were at a standstill, he said.

"The struggle of the local people, especially the adivasis, has completed three years. The Perumatty Panchayat has gone on appeal to the Supreme Court against the decision of the Division Bench of the Kerala High Court. I would request the Government to support and help the Perumatty Panchayat, which is fighting to establish their constitutional rights. How can a small panchayat fight the mighty multinational company," Mr. Kumar asked.

"I urge the Government to direct the Ground Water Authority to conduct a study in Plachimada and also the adjoining Pudussery Panchayat where Pepsi is exploiting ground water so that safeguards can be taken to avoid the impending crisis. I also want the Government to re-prioritise the allocation of water in order to protect the interest of the rural poor. It is equally important to have policy decisions and proper implementation of the same with regard to ground water exploitation," he added.

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