Resentment Brews in Plachimada Over Centre’s Directive
by K.A. Shaji
The Hindu
January 21, 2015

Pallakad: Resentment is brewing among residents of Plachimada over the Union Home Ministry’s missive to the State government demanding scrapping of the Plachimada Coca Cola Victims Relief and Compensation Claims Special Tribunal Bill, terming it unconstitutional.

Plachimada Samara Samithi chairman Vilayodi Vengopal termed the move a bid to subvert the constitutional process to ensure justice for the people demanding compensation for the ecological damage caused by the cola unit.

He said the samithi would hold a series of agitations in Delhi seeking implementation of the Bill.

The samithi and the Plachimada Agitation Solidarity Committee had decided to approach the Supreme Court pointing out the arbitrary manner in which the Centre returned the Bill without forwarding it to the President for his assent.

“We are planning a mass convention in Palakkad in February with participation of Opposition Leader V.S. Achuthanandan and KPCC president V.M. Sudheeran, among others. The convention will explore strategies to ensure the rights of the people of Plachimada,” Mr. Venugopal told The Hindu .

State govt. criticised

Solidarity committee leader Arumugan Pathichira criticised the State government for keeping the Centre’s letter under wraps.

Palakkad MP M.B. Rajesh called upon the government to move the apex court to ensure justice for the people of Plachimada. “As per the law, the Home Ministry can forward the Bill to the President with its comments and observations. Only the President can take a decision. The Ministry has no right to return it or to direct the State to scrap it,” he said.

“The Centre’s action amounted to the executive usurping the powers of the legislature. Presidential reference is an exclusive right vested in the President of India and it is for him to take a decision which should be conveyed to the State. In this case, the Centre exercised non-existent powers to direct the State legislature to withdraw its legislation,” P.S Panicker, environmentalist, said.

S. Faizi, expert member on the Plachimada high-power committee, termed unrealistic the Ministry’s observation that the Bill was in conflict with the National Green Tribunal Act.

He said the NGT could accept petitions for compensation in cases only up to five-and-a-half years before its inception.

“The NGT became operational only in May 2011. The groundwater exploitation and toxic contamination caused by the company at Plachimada occurred during 2000-2004,” he said.

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