Government to Introduce Legislation To Hold Coca-Cola Accountable

Bill Allows Coca-Cola Affected Parties to Seek Compensation from Company

For Immediate Release
February 18, 2011

New Delhi: The state government of Kerala in India has approved a draft Bill to set up a tribunal which will allow individuals adversely affected by Coca-Cola’s bottling operations in Plachimada to seek compensation from the company.

The state government is expected to introduce the Bill in the state legislature next week, and the Bill is expected to pass.

The decision to introduce the Bill to set up a mechanism to hold Coca-Cola financially accountable for the damages it has caused is a very significant move by the state government of Kerala. The passage of the Bill by the state legislature will formalize the state government’s position that Coca-Cola is responsible for causing environmental damages in and around its bottling plant in Plachimada in the state of Kerala, and that the company must pay for the damages it has caused.

The move by the state government comes as the result of a long and sustained community-led campaign to hold Coca-Cola accountable for pollution and water depletion in Plachimada. The bottling plant in Plachimada has remained closed since March 2004 as a result of the campaign.

The draft Bill is based on the report and recommendations of a High Power Committee which released a report on March 22, 2010 holding Coca-Cola responsible for causing pollution and water depletion in Plachimada in the state of Kerala in south India.

Using the “polluter pays principle,” the High Power Committee had recommended that Coca-Cola be held liable for Indian Rupees 216 crore (US$ 48 million) for damages caused as a result of the company's bottling operations in Plachimada.

Welcoming the decision to approve the draft Bill and introduce it for legislation, R. Ajayan of Plachimada Solidarity Committee said:

“Coca-Cola must accept the will of the people of Kerala, which is now expressed by the government of Kerala. The Coca-Cola company has violated a number of laws in Kerala, and the government must initiate action against Coca-Cola to hold the company criminally accountable.”

The High Power Committee report, on which the draft Bill is based, had confirmed that Coca-Cola had violated a number of laws in its reckless operations, including: Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974; The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986; Hazardous Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1989; Land Utilization Order, 1967; and The Kerala Ground Water (Control & Regulation) Act, 2002.

The recommendations of the High Power Committee are here.

A list of the members of the High Power Committee is here.

For more information, visit www.IndiaResource.org

R. Ajayan, Plachimada Solidarity Committee +91 98471 42513
C. R. Bijoy, People's Union for Civil Liberties +91 98431 72584
Amit Srivastava, India Resource Center +1 415 336 7584 (US) +91 98103 46161 (India)


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