This Article is From Mar 22, 2010

Will Coke pay 216 crores to Kerala Govt?

Thiruvananthapuram: In a setback to softdrink major Coca Cola, an experts panel set up by Kerala Government today suggested legal steps to realise Rs 216.26 crore as compensation from it for the "multi-sectoral" loss caused by its plant at Plachimada in Palakkad district.

The 14-member Committee, headed by Additional Chief Secretary K Jayakumar, also recommended setting up of a tribunal to take the legal process forward since it would not be possible to the affected people to individually fight the legal battle.

The panel report, handed over to state Water Resources Minister N K Premachandran here, held that besides heavy withdrawal of ground water, the Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages Ltd plant had inflicted harm to the farming and environment in the area by dumping solid waste.

It quantified the damage suffered by various sectors due to the functioning of the plant from 1999 to 2004 as agricultural loss (Rs 84. 16 crore), pollution of water resources (Rs 62 crore), cost of providing water (Rs 20 crore), health damage (Rs 30 crore), wage loss and opportunity cost (Rs 20 crore).

Receiving the report, the minister said it would be placed before the state cabinet to take appropriate steps. The LDF Government had set up the high-level panel to assess the "socio-economic damage" allegedly caused by "exploitation" of ground water by the plant. The report incidentally came on a day which is being observed as 'World Water Day'.