Kerala High court Judgement 7-4-2005

Kerala High court Judgement on 7-4-2005 that allowed coca cola to loot 50000 litre water/day from communities

Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages (P) Ltd. v. Perumatty Grama Panchayat
(M. Ramachandran & K.P. Balachandran, (JJ)
W.A. No. 2125 of 2003
W.A. No.215 of 2004
W.A. No.1962 of 2003 &
W.P. (C) No. 12600 of 2004

Ramachandran J:
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Message in a Bottle

Alexander Cockburn
The Free Press
April 13, 2005

PLACHIMADA -- Whizzing along the road in the little Tata Indica, driven prestissimo by the imperturbable Sudhi, we crossed the state line from Tamil Nadu into Kerala, branched off the main road and ended up in the settlement of Plachimada, mostly inhabited by extremely poor people. There on one side of the street was the Coca-Cola plant, among the company's largest in Asia, and on the other, a shack filled with locals eager to impart the news that they were now, as of April 2, in Day 1,076 of their struggle against the plant.
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UK Students Move Towards Coca-Cola Boycott

Federation of Progressive Student Unions
April 11, 2005

Students, on Wednesday, at the National Union of Students (NUS) Annual Conference in Blackpool, overwhelmingly voted to take what could be the first steps to boycott Coca-Cola products from Students' Unions bars and shops. This move, echoing the steps of UNISON, follows strong calls from SOAS, Middlesex, Leeds and Bristol Students' Unions who already have policy to boycott the company from their campuses.
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Coca-Cola to Hold Talks with Village Council, Community in Plachimada

The Hindu
April 9, 2005

PALAKKAD: Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Private Limited will hold discussions with the panchayat and local community before taking a decision on reopening the company in the wake of the Kerala High Court order allowing it to draw five lakh litres of ground water daily.

The company spokesman, Vikas Kochar, told The Hindu that the company would take the next step only after holding discussions with the people of the area and studying the High Court judgment in detail.
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Court Ruling in India Does Not Allow Re-Opening of Coca-Cola Plant

From: Amit Srivastava <>
Subject: Some points on Plachimada news
Date: Fri, 08 Apr 2005 10:06:57 -0700


I just wanted to clarify something as relates to the current news being reported by media and some NGO's that the High Court of Kerala has allowed Coca-Cola to begin operations at Plachimada.

This is NOT TRUE, and we must ensure that the facts are promoted. We cannot afford to have another round of misinformation going around.

1. The High Court has ruled that Coca-Cola can extract up to 500,000 (5 lakhs) liters of water per day. This does not mean that Coca-Cola has been allowed to resume operations.

2. The High Court has ruled that the Perumatty panchayat (which denied Coke the license) HAS 15 DAYS to reconsider the application. This means that Coca-Cola has to APPLY AGAIN to the Perumatty panchayat for a license to operate.

3. The Perumatty panchayat has made a statement that they will be APPEALING the latest High Court ruling to the Supreme Court. This means that it is very possible that the Supreme Court will now have to hear the
argument before Coca-Cola is allowed to do anything

4. The Coca-Cola Virudh Sangarsh Samiti and the Plachimada Solidarity Committee have issued a statement that they will intensify the community struggle against Coca-Cola, and they are asking the state government
to file an appeal.

5. It is important to note the BOTH the lawyers for the KERALA STATE GOVT and the Perumatty panchayat were arguing before the court that the report (which recommended 5 lakh liters per day) was INADEQUATE, and that
Coca-Cola should not be allowed to draw even that much water. This is significant because the state government's position was the same as the panchayat's.

Please emphasize the above points when speaking with the media and allies.

The initial High Court ruling, on December 16, 2003, was very well written and it proclaimed that even if it was assumed that Coca-Cola could extract water safely, it should not be allowed to do so because "the underground water belongs to the general public and the 2nd respondent [Coca-Cola] has no right to claim a huge share of it and the Government have no power to allow a private party to extract such a huge quantity of ground water, which is a property, held by it in trust."


Local body to move Supreme Court in Coke case

Palakkad: Firm on its struggle for closure of the Coca Cola plant here, a
panchayat here today said it would move the Supreme Court against Kerala
High Court decision permitting the softdrink plant to draw ground water
from the locality.

President of Janata Dal (S)-controlled Perumatty panchayat A Krishnan said
in a statement that the local body would go in appeal to the apex court
against the high court order allowing the unit to draw ground water not
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Coca-Cola Affected Community in India Promises Escalation of Campaign, Despite Court Ruling

Plachimada and New York (April 8, 2005): In a surprising move, a division bench of the High Court of Kerala has permitted Coca-Cola to extract up to 500,000 liters of water from the common groundwater resource per day at its Plachimada facility, in southern India. The bottling plant remains shut down for over a year now due to intense community pressure.

The Perumatty village council (panchayat), which had refused to renew Coca-Cola's license to operate citing it for over-extraction of water, has been given 15 days to reconsider its decision, and Coca-Cola is expected to file for a renewal of the license to the Perumatty panchayat in the next few days.

The High Court ruling is expected to be appealed to the Supreme Court, and it seems unlikely that Coca-Cola can reopen its plant at Plachimada in the near future.
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Comments on Kerala high Court verdict

[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.

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

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.]

Coca-Cola gets nod for drawing groundwater

Coca-Cola firm gets nod for drawing groundwater
By Our Staff Reporter

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.
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