Published: 24th February 2021
#ThrowBackToday: No compensation in sight for victims of Coca-Cola plant's atrocities in Kerala even after a decade
In today's #TBT, we recall how a bottling plant of the aerated beverage Coca-Cola abused water and contaminated it in a tribal area of Kerala and how the fight for compensation still wages on
Coca-Cola was at it again. Or more specifically, it was Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages (HCCB), the Indian bottling entity of Coca-Cola. It's bottling plant in the tribal area of Plachimada in Kerala’s Palakkad district not only caused severe water shortage but even contaminated the water and umped their solid waste unethically, to put it mildly. Naturally, the residents were up in arms and demanded the plant to be shut and compensation as well.
While the plant was shut in 2005, Kerala's State Assembly passed the Plachimada Coca-Cola Victims Relief and Compensation Claims Special Tribunal Bill 2011 on February 24, 2011which proposed that a tribunal should be formed to zero in on the compensation. And in the year 2015, the bill was deemed unconstitutional. And the corporates won again.
In the year 2010, an expert panel formed by the state pegged the compensation at a whopping Rs 216.26 crore. They citied “muti-sectoral” compensation not just for water contamination but also for loss of health, agricultural loss and so on. While Kerala Agricultural University tests confirmed the presence of chromium, copper, lead and calcium at "toxic levels" in meat, egg and milk of the area, while Sargram Metals Laboratories in March 2002 deemed the water unfit for "human consumption, domestic use and for irrigation.". Even the University of Exeter discovered alarmingly high levels of cadmium and lead in the sludge.
What else happened today?
- Sridevi, India's earliest female superstars, passed away
- American film producer Harvey Weinstein was convicted of rape and a criminal sex act, victory for the #MeToo movement
- Katherine Johnson, American Mathematician whose stellar work at NASA gave way to the book and film Hidden Figures, passed away