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Plachimada High Power Committee Report - PDF

Plachimada High Power Committee Report - PDF

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Acknowledgements
Chairman and members of the High Power Committee gratefullyacknowledge the active support and valuable contribution of a largenumber of people in making this Report possible. Though all names arenot being mentioned here, our thanks are specially due to:Prof. M. K. Prasad, Shri John Kurien, Dr. R. Hali, Shri PradeepKukkillaya, Dr. Anirudhan, Dr. E. Shaji, Dr. Thomas Mathew, Adv. SivanMadathil, Dr. R. Rajmohan, Dr. H. C. Sarathchandra, Dr. Sairu Philip, Dr.P. S. Rajasekharan, Dr. Subramonia Iyer, Dr. V. N. Sivasankara Pillai,Dr. P. Leela Krishnan and Shri K. M. Alias for their expert advice andsuggestions,Smt. Risha Premkumar, President and Shri Krishnan, StandingCommittee Chairman and members of the Perumatty Grama Panchayatfor their insightful inputs,And the hundreds of people and concerned citizens who participated inthe public hearing and the visit for their willingness to share their woesand experience.The Committee recalls with gratitude the spirited guidance andenlightened advice given by Dr. C. R. Soman, who could attend only twomeetings before his demise. We pay our respectful homage to him.We thank Shri N. K. Premachandran, Hon. Minister for Water Resourcesin particular and Government of Kerala in general for reposing faith inthis Committee.
 
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Foreword
Plachimada, a remote village in Palakkad district has todaybecome synonymous with a long struggle for justice. Ever sincethe inception of the Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages PrivateLimited (HCBPL) factory in this village, the fabric of life of thepeople was torn and the environment has been violated. Waterand soil quality deteriorated. Agriculture and allied activitiesdeclined. What started as a concern and resentment among thepeople soon became a major resistance movement while the fearsof short-term contamination and long- term damages wereconfirmed by scientific studies. Several studies have come to theconclusion that the over-extraction of ground water by the factoryhas depleted the water resources and the indiscriminate disposalof sludge containing cadmium and lead has created immediateloss and suffering and long term consequences.It is evident that the damages caused by the Coca Cola factory atPlachimada have created a host of social, economic, health andecological problems, cutting across different sectors. Though theextent of damages and their inter-sectoral linkages wereunderstood and the culpability of the Company was established,the earlier studies lacked two major dimensions. Firstly, noattempt was made to quantify these damages. Secondly, therewas no well defined proposal about a legally tenable institutionalmechanism to claim compensation from the Company.Government of Kerala, on a recommendation by the State GroundWater Authority, constituted this High Power Committee on23.5.2009 with the mandate of ‘assessing the scale and nature ofthe damages’. The Committee had members from different
 
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disciplines so as to facilitate a proper appreciation of this multi-sectoral crisis.It is pertinent to remember that such an exercise has noprecedent in the State. The Committee had, therefore, to evolveits own strategies and methodology to arrive at a meaningfulassessment, rational conclusions and practical recommendations.The High Power Committee held eight meetings and conducted apublic hearing at Perumatty Panchayat Office after publishingnotice. In the public hearing attended by hundreds of affectedpeople, voluntary workers, concerned citizens and Panchayatrepresentatives, the various woes experienced by the people onaccount of the functioning of the Company were presented. Inthese presentations, the insensitivity of the Company and itscontinued denial of problems were self-evident. The Committeeevaluated all the available Reports on Plachimada and carefullystudied the various representations received.It was felt that in order to take stock of the scientific and legalramifications of the various hardships highlighted, discussions withspecialists were necessary. Accordingly, two Panel discussions withexperts were organized. One at Trivandrum focused on the variousissues related to water resources, agriculture and health. Thesecond discussion was solely on the legal and environmentalaspects. Large number of eminent scientists, lawyers, doctors,environmental engineers, academicians and experts participated inthese Panel discussions which provided to the Committee anupdate of the various aspects. The Panelists also shared similarexperiences which gave a useful perspective to the Committee. Inbetween, the Committee also made a day-long visit to Plachimada

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