THE struggle of the people of Plachimada against corporate greed and the denial of their right to water and other basic needs and livelihood has once again reached a dead end, with the President of India denying sanction for a Bill passed unanimously by the Kerala Assembly in 2011 with a view to helping those affected by Coca-Cola’s controversial bottling unit there.
The Bill was meant for establishment of a special tribunal for speedy adjudication of disputes and recovery of compensation for the predominantly poor, landless victims of Coca- Cola’s activities at Plachimada, a village in Perumatty panchayat in Kerala’s Palakkad district.
The district lies in the rain shadow region of the Western Ghats. A majority of the people there have been traditionally engaged in agriculture, relying heavily on irrigation and groundwater for irrigation needs. This is especially true of Plachimada, which has a sizeable number of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe families depending on agriculture. Coca-Cola built its controversial plant here in 2000.
The Home Ministry’s communication to the State Governor’s office in mid-January did not explain why the Bill was being returned. It merely said that “the President is pleased to withhold assent to ‘the Plachimada Coca Cola Victims Compensation Claims Tribunal Bill 2011’ on 20-11-2015”.