Thiruvananthapuram: In a significant legislation against the corporate giant Coca Cola, Kerala's CPI (M)-led LDF Government on Tuesday introduced a bill in the state Assembly seeking to set up a special tribunal to realise compensation from the softdrink for the losses its plant at Plachimada caused to the people in the area.
The bill was introduced brought in on the basis the recommendation of a High Power Committee which found that a huge loss to the tune of Rs 216.16 crore had been caused by the plant of the Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages Pvt Ltd at Plachimada village in Palakkad district.
The legislation, introduced by Water Resources Minister N K premachandran,stated that the functioning of the plant caused environmental and soil degradation, water contamination due to over-extraction of ground water leading to drinking water scarcity and decline in agriculture due to disposal of sledge which contained metals like cadmium, led and chromium.
The bill was introduced to realise compensation for causing losses to people at Plachimada.
The bill said the disposal of the sledge also affected the general health of the people causing them skin ailments, breathing problems and other debilities.
The special tribunal was intended to settle all disputes relating to probelm caused by the plant within a fixed time limit.
The plachimada plant has been virtually dysfunctional for the last several years following prolonged agitations by resistance groups including tribals and legal battles against extraction of ground water by the company.
At one point of time, the Government banned the production and sale of cola but it was lifted later following a high court order.
The bill, titled as "Plachimada Coca Cola Victims' Relief and Compensation Claims Special Tribunal-2011," was referred to the Subject Committee without discussion, as the house was at that time under turmoil with Congress-led UDF Opposition protesting over the lottery issue issue which surfaced after the zero hour.
The legislation envisaged creation of a 3-member tribunal including a chairperson, an administrartive member and an expert member.
The bill, is expected be retunred to the house by the Subject Committee in another two days, and adopted by the assembly as it was introduced after reaching a consensus between the ruling and the opposition sides.
It is also importan, that this is the final session of the present assembly as the elections are expected to be declared shortly and as per the schedule the sitting is to conclude on February 24.