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11.05.03
Politics and Economy:
Panchayat Letter to Coca-Cola
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Office of the Perumatty
Grama Panchayat,
P.O. Vandithavalam.

No. B3-378/02
Dated: 18.09.2003

Special Grade Secretary,
Perumatty Grama Panchayat.

The Plant Manager,
Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages Pvt Ltd.,
Moolathara Village, Kannimari Post,
Chittor Taluk, Palakkad Distt.,
Kerala.

Dear Sir,

This notice is issued to you in terms of the power conferred on the Perumatty Grama Panchayat Under Section 166 of the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act read with Schedule 3 and Article 243G of the Constitution of India.

The Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages Pvt Ltd., had obtained a license from the Perumatty Grama Panchayat for installing 2600 HP Electrical Motor for running the Coca Cola Bottling plant and for manufacturing, storing and sale of aerated water and cool drinks. The license was being extend from time to time. However, no license has been obtained from the manufacturing started the company started extracting water from the bore wells and open wells installed by it using electric pump etc., with out any license duly obtained from the Panchayat.

It is also noticed that the Paddy fields in the possession of the company were covered into dry lands and several manufacturing processes commenced in that area including construction of buildings and non-agricultural activities in patent violation of the provisions of the Kerala Land Utilization Order 1967 and without obtaining any permission from the competent authority. The company had also constructed various buildings without the permission of the panchayat.

The Panchayat started receiving complaints from members of the public and in particular the common people including tribals that the storage of water and the source of water itself were adversely affected by the indiscriminate installation of bore wells for tapping ground water, which had led to very serious consequences as regards the cultivation in the area on which most of the residents of the panchayat depend for the living. It was found that the maintenance of traditional drinking water sources and preservation of ponds and other water tanks, the maintenance of waterways and canals under the control of the Panchayat etc., had been adversely affected preventing the Panchayat from discharging the mandatory functions enjoined on it under the 3rd Schedule of the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act.

Besides, the Panchayat has also received authentic report that besides the shortage of drinking water in the locality, on account of indiscriminate extraction of the water by the company, the available water in the area has become unusable and non-drinkable. The water section of the Medical Laboratory, Kozhikode has reported that due to the hardness of the water and the high content of the Chlorides, the water available in the area has become unusable and non-drinkable by the people.

The Panchayat has materials to show that every day about 85 truckloads of products leave the factory. Each lorry is loaded with 550-600 cases. Each case contains 25 bottles. It is estimated that about three lakhs liters of soft drinks is manufactured by the company in Plachimada. That requires thousands of liters of clean water which is provided from the more than six (6) deep bores sunk within the factory land and from open wells for which the company has not obtained any permission from the Panchayat. The manufacturing process naturally generates large amount of polluted water and chemical waste. The entire area therefore has become contaminated as the soil, water and air, all have been polluted. Farm labourers and other people in the area have started developing rashes and skin problems and some of the women have developed deep dark pigmentation on the outer surface of the palms and fore arms. Some are reported to be painful to the afflicted persons. The company is pumping wastewater into the dry bore wells for disposing of solid waste. The company is collecting the waste material within the company premises causing serious health hazards to the entire locality. Prior to the inspection by the Pollution Control Board, the company was depositing the waste material outside the company premises. During rainy season, this waste material spreads into the paddy fields, canals, and wells, nearby areas causing serious health hazards. The company is now driving the wastewater to the ground level by using tubes and other equipments. In short, by the functioning of the company in the Perumatty Grama Panchayat area, the drinking water facility available in and around the area within a radius of about 10 kms have been adversely affected and thereby causing serious health hazards to the residents in the area and even preventing use of water, for cultivation of paddy, vegetable etc.

The drinking water facilities in the area provided by public authorities are by about 260 bore wells for agriculture and domestic purposes. All the bore wells have become dry on account of the indiscriminate use of ground water by the company.

The company's manufacturing items such as Coca Cola, Miranda, 7Up, Sprite, Fanta, Kinley Soda etc. The centre for Science and Environmental based in Delhi, after collecting samples from 12 soft drink brands including Coca Cola has found that the soft drink manufactured by the company contained residues of four extremely toxic pesticides and insolvents, DDT, Melethron Chloropurafas. The level of pesti-residues according to the report far exceeded the maximum residue limits in water and used as food as set down by the European Economic Commission. According to the centre, each sample had enough poison to cause long-term cancer, damage to nerves and reproductive systems and severe defect to immune system. The report was prepared after testing soft drinks like Coca Cola, Miranda Orange, Miranda Lemon, Fanta, Limca, Sprite and Thumps Up, all of which are manufactured by the company in its Plachimada unit. The Panchayat therefore has reasons to believe that the company is manufacturing in the licensed premises within the Perumatty Grama Panchayat soft drinks, which are harmful to the members of the public and which cause serious health hazards to those who use the same. The report clearly indicates that the company is using chemicals which are forbidden and for which no license admittedly has been obtained by the company from any authorities including the Panchayat.

On enquiries the panchayat gathers that though the Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages Pvt Ltd., have shareholders in India, none of them has voting rights or any say in the decision making process by the company. In short all decisions are taken by foreign nationals as regards the manufacturing of soft drinks, establishment of factories disposal of waste etc., with out any say to anyone of the Indian Nationals. The Panchayat therefore, has reasons to believe that the very establishment of the factory within its area is violative of various provisions of law regulating the conduct of business by Multi National Companies.

The products of the company do not bear details of the various agents constituting its ingredients including the preservatives colurs, flavours etc., mandatorily required to instill a sense of confidence in the consumer.

The sale and consumption of the products like Coca Cola have been banned within the Parliament premises in New Delhi and also by the State Legislative Assembly. Trivandrum on the ground that they contained poisonous substance.

The Perumatty Grama Panchayat therefore feels that further continuance of manufacturing unit within its limits by the company is not only harmful to the residents of the Panchayat but will forbid the Panchayat from discharging its constitutional and mandatory obligation enjoined on it under the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act. The Panchayat therefore has strong prima face reasons to believe and feel that further continuance of manufacturing unit by the company within its limits is injurious and harmful to the interest of the residents of the Panchayat, whose health, well being etc., have to be protected by the Panchayat and are part of its functions under the provisions of the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act.

You are therefore hereby called upon to show cause why in exercise of the powers of the Panchayat conferred on it under the provisions of the constitution of India and the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act, the manufacturing unit of the Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages Ltd., Plachimada shall not be closed down and all its activities stopped within the area of the Perumatty Grama Panchayat. You are requested to show cause within 15 days from the date of this notice why such a step shall not be resorted to by the panchayat in exercise of its statutory powers, falling receipt of any satisfactory explanation and reply from you, kindly take notice that the Panchayat will be exercising its statutory powers to close down the factory within its limits. This is without prejudice to such actions, as the Panchayat has to take mandatorily for violation of the various provisions of law by the company.

Yours faithfully,

SPECIAL GRADE SECRETARY,
PERUMATTY GRAMA PANCHAYAT


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