Office of the Perumatty Grama Panchayat, P.O. Vandithavalam.
No. B3-378/02 Dated: 18.09.2003
Special Grade Secretary, Perumatty Grama Panchayat.
The Plant Manager, Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages Pvt Ltd., Moolathara Village, Kannimari Post, Chittor Taluk, Palakkad Distt., Kerala.
This notice is issued to you in terms of the power conferred on the Perumatty Grama Panchayat Under Section 166 of the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act read with Schedule 3 and Article 243G of the Constitution of India. ( Collapse )
KOCHI, APRIL 7. A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court today held that the Coca-Cola company will be entitled to draw 5 lakh litres of groundwater a day from its plant at Plachimada in Palakkad without any right for accumulation in case of non-use.
The Bench comprising Justice M. Ramachandran and Justice K.P. Balachandran made it clear that the restrictions imposed for the company's consumption would not be applicable when water is drawn for additional requirements such as supply of water to people in the area. The court directed that the company should involve in community development projects such as healthcare and supply of water for people in the area. ( Collapse )
[The High Court has pronounced. Excerpts from an article published in June-July 2004 is given below as comments to the verdict of the Court in April 2005]
Two years have already elapsed since the people of the surrounding villages have set up the picket just across the road opposite the Coca Cola plant of Plachimada. The local Panchayat, the state government and the judiciary have been preoccupied in debating how much water Coca Cola plant should or should not extract, when and from where; are the allegations sufficiently validated by the authorized agencies; is the Panchayat exceeding its authority in its decisions regarding the functioning of Coca Cola. For the people of Plachimada, water is still not potable, water table has gone down, agriculture has almost collapsed leading to large scale unemployment, indebtedness has increased and so too health problems. ............
Conclusion The question is not wheher the MNCs take their corporate social responsibility seriously. It is also not whether the MNCs are ready for and capable of taking over water. It is not also whether governance, in this case of water, is to be handed over to the corporates.
Is water for drinking, domestic use and livelihood purposes of the vast masses primary? Or is water for the privileged resource rich leisured class is to be accorded priority over the basic needs of the people? It obviously seems so the way the debates are going on amongst those who decide and influence decision-making.
The fundamental question is also who has the rights and power for primary decision-making - the gram sabha, the Panchayat or the State - the people who continue the agitation, the Panchayat coming in support of the struggle only after one year after the struggle was launched and the state still insisting that the Panchayat is overstepping its authority in the cancellation of license. Water for the people and therefore their survival is yet to become the issue for the system as the political-administrative-judicial system is still debating over jurisdiction of power, the scientific validity of the allegations and other such dilatory matters being preoccupied with the issue of 'water for Coca Cola' rather than 'water for the people'!
[Excerpted from: Coca-Cola: The Sparkle of Death by C.R Bijoy Combat Law, Vol. 3 Issue 2, June-July 2004, pg.48-51.]