Coca-Cola Compensation Committee Meets
--Committee may recommend institutional mechanism to determine damages
--Panel decides to hold public hearings
--Field visits planned to assess damage
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A high-level committee, constituted by the government
to determine the extent and nature of loss resulting from the Coca-Cola
plant at Plachimada in Palakkad district, proposes to recommend the
establishment of an institutional mechanism to receive claims from
people for compensation and make the company liable to pay it.
This was among the several suggestions put forward at the first meeting
of the committee, chaired by Additional Chief Secretary K. Jayakumar
here on Friday.
The committee decided to hold public hearings and elicit the views
of people’s representatives, the local panchayat and non-governmental
organisations in August as part of a broad consultation process. The
company’s views on the issue too would be sought.
The committee will make field visits and assess the geographical extent
of the damage caused by the company’s operations. It will also do
a critical evaluation of the studies done on the impact of the operations
of the Coca-Cola plant and collect additional data and information
from official agencies and members of the public.
The committee will study the extent of damage caused to agriculture,
animal husbandry and environment. It will also look into the loss
of livelihood, pollution and depletion of water sources and the health
effects of pollution and assess the level and quantum of damage. Losses
to individuals and the costs for reversal of ecological damage will
Steps for awareness
Besides, steps will be taken to create awareness among the people
of the losses and empower them to claim compensation. The committee
proposes to submit its report by October. As part of the preparation
of its report, workshops attended by experts in relevant fields will
be organised and the proceedings will be appended to the report. The
committee have public health worker C.R. Soman, environmental expert
S. Faizi, and former District and Sessions Judge T. K. Raman as members
besides heads of government departments and agencies.
Meanwhile, the Adivasi Samrakshana Sanghom and the Plachimada Struggle
Solidarity Committee are demanding that a statutory authority be set
up to deal with the claims. Their leaders have stated in a memorandum
to committee members that a tribunal could be set up under the National
Environmental Tribunal Act. They have claimed that compensation is
payable for pollution of water, depletion of groundwater due to over-extraction
and pollution of soil, including costs of remediation.
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