Urgent action alert -- Palakkad, Kerala
Activists arrested. Attempt by
the police and government to falsely implicate them to crush the struggle
PUCL Kerala activists arrested
13 activists were arrested on 30 August 2003 at Palakkad when they were
holding a peaceful demonstration in front of the Kerala Ground Water Board.
The demonstration was organised by the People's
Union for Civil Liberties - Kerala
to voice their protest against the inefficiency of the Board in tackling
the ground water problems created by Coca Cola Plachimada unit despite
daily protests since 22 April 2002 by primarily the Adivasis who are the
Various government departments had also confirmed the existance of the
problems - all related to the ground water.
Amongst the arrested were Venugopal Vilayodi, the General Secretary
of PUCL-Kerala and Arumugham Pathichira both of whom are also key activists
and leaders of the Coca-Cola Virudha Janakeeya Samara Samithy (Anti Coca
Cola Peoples Struggle Committee) who has been spearheading this long drawn
The arrested have been remanded for 5 days and falsely accused of attempting
to destroy the office etc in an attempt to falsely and deliberately create
an image of being 'extremist' or 'terrorist'. The Revenue Divisional Officer,
the DySP and other Senior Police officials were involved in the swoop
to arrest the peaceful slogan shouting protesters. It may be recalled
that a few days earlier, on 28 August 2003, the Coca Cola godown at Kochi
(more than 200 kms away from Plachimada) was set on fire which has been
widely publicised by the police and the media as possibly the handiwork
There have been numerous arrests (over 300 arrests made at different times)
times in the past over 480 days of continuous non-stop agitations. Ever
since the Coca Cola Company announced that the struggle was 'politically
motivated' it was clear that the struggle was planned to be crushed under
the garb of fighting 'extremism' and 'terrorism'.
It is noteworthy that
- this is a democratic struggle od the people
- this struggle has been peaceful without any incident of any violence
(though there has been false cases foised against the agitators from
time to time), despite repeated police provocation to incite violence,
despite instigation and threats from the hirelings and goondas of Coca
- this struggle has been supported by the widest possible sections
from across the state and other parts of the country - Gandhians, the
radical left, the left, the socialists and democrats. There has been
active support from numerous writers, poets, academics, scientists,
engineers, health personnel and others. A large number of orgainsations
have actively participated or supported the struggle.
Yet this time there was a difference
The Coca Cola company had clearly contaminated the ground water, contaminated
the land with carcinogens, drained the acquifers, sold or donated toxic
wastes as fertilsers, gave more pesticides to drink in their drinks and
lied at every step. They have been cornered and exposed. YET they continue
to function freely !!
The manner in which the present arrests have been made, the manner in
which the police have twisted their report to point out a finger to them
as 'extremist' now after all this, indicates the unfolding collusion of
the state government to put down the struggle by strong arm tactics.
It is indicative that the Congress led United Democratic Front of A.K
Antony is all set to extend the collusion with Coca Cola by not only delaying
any action against the company despite the piling up of official documents
which indict the company on numerous counts, but also in building up a
George Bush style 'extremism' bogey as the core of this democratic struggle.
This, we fear, is designed to unleash violence and terror against the
peaceful protesters - the Adivasis and others - to protect Coca Cola !!!
1999: Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages Ltd starts the Plachimade
22 April 2002: Struggle launched against Coca Cola for
the closure of the factory.
7 April 2003: Perumatty Panchayat revoks the Coke factory's licence.
25 July 2003: BBC Radio announces that the samples of
water and wastes sold by Coke as soil conditioner (but used by local farmers
as fertiliser) contained dangerous levels of heavy metals (carcinogenice)
such as cadmium and lead confirmed after testing in the laboratory at
University of Exeter.
6 August 2003: The Kerala State Pollution Control Board
confirms that Coke's bottling plant at Plachimada had indeed been polluting
the groundwater and agricultural land in and around its plant and that
the existence of carcinogenic contaminants in the waste was confirmed.
The Board also instructs the company not to let the sludge out of the
factory premises and to stop distribution of the sludge as manure even
within the factory premises. The Public Health Department had confirmed
that the ground water around the plant in not 'potable'. The Kerala Ground
Water Board had confirmed the depletion of the ground water.
What you Can Do?
1. Send urgent protest telegrams/fax
messages/letters against the arrest, demand their unconditional release
and withdrawal of false cases, demanding immediate criminal action against
the Coca Cola, closure of the plant, compensation for the destruction
of the lives and basic resources
particularly water and restoration of the ecology.
Please send protest telegrams/fax messages. some relevant addresses
are given below.
Government of Kerala
Address Office : Room No:141, IIIrd Floor, North Block, Secretariat, Thiruvananthapuram,
Tel: +91-471-2333812, 2332184, 2333682, 2518666, 2512040
Residence: Cliff House, Nanthencode, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India
695 003 Tel: +91-471-2314853, 2317051,
Principal Secretary to Chief Minister
Tel: +91-471-2333720 (O); 2726725 (R)
2. Share this information
with all those concerned about survival rights, human rights, environmental
rights and the predatory nature of globalisation and multi-national companies.
3. Issue press releases
condemning the arrests demanding the immediate closure of the Plachimada
plant of Coca Cola.
4. Organise protests against
Coca-Cola, a symbol of giant global predator
JOIN AND SPREAD THE STRUGGLE AGAINST COCA COLA
Yours in struggle
Coca-Cola Virudha Janakeeya Samara Samithy (Anti Coca Cola Peoples Struggle
Plachimada, Kannimari P.O
Palakkad District, Kerala
India 678 534