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Industry & Economy - Environment


Activists vow to keep Coke plant shutters down

Vipin V. Nair


Environmentalist Ms Medha Patkar and others form a human chain in front of the Coca-Cola plant at Plachimada near Palakkad on Tuesday. - K.K. Mustafah

Palakkad , June 15

HUNDREDS of activists and environmentalists thronged Coca-Cola's bottling plant at Plachimada near here, and vowed never to allow the unit to reopen as the Government order banning the company from drawing groundwater cease to be in force from today.

They formed a `human chain' in front of the factory, shouting slogans against Coke and other multinationals, even as scores of Coca-Cola employees protested against the gathering from within the premises. Noted environmental activist Ms Medha Patkar addressed the gathering, which included eminent Malayalam writers, MLAs and the local MP and politicians and other activists. "We have to throw out the WTO and its tentacles like Coca-Cola (from India)," said Ms Patkar.

"We want MNCs - whether Indian or international - to be out of the country," she said, urging the State Government to throw out Coke from Kerala. Coke's Plachimada plant, located some 40 km from Palakkad, has been in the eye of a storm for about two years for allegedly drawing groundwater excessively, thereby depleting the water table around the area.

The State Government had stopped the plant from drawing groundwater till June 15. The plant has been temporarily shut after the Government issued the order. Coke officials were not available for comment as to when the company will reopen the plant.

Employees of the bottling unit, numbering around 350, alleged that vested interests are working against the plant and said their livelihood was under question because of the anti-Coke campaign. They shouted `Medha go back' and wanted the Police to let them come out of the gate.

Police had earlier removed them from outside the gate, fearing that even a slight provocation could lead to a crisis. Ms Patkar said the State Government should make its stance clear on the issue of the Coke plant.

"This battle is more moral than legal. The State must say no to Coke if it is concerned about the people," she said.

More Stories on : Environment | Kerala | Beverages

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