The local people, environmentalists, and some political parties are up in arms over the alleged move to set up a distillery at Muthalamada in Chittur taluk, a rain shadow area of the district.
The State government is learned to have given permission to relocate a distillery in Kozhikode that was closed down due to pollution problems. The Excise Department has given permission to open the unit at Muthalamada with enhanced capacity.
According to environmentalists, though there was such a move during the Left Democratic Front reign, it was shelved following protests. But the move was revived after the United Democratic Front came to power. The Muthalamada grama panchayat ruled by the UDF had once rejected the application to set up the distillery in the panchayat. But the proposal was brought to the panchayat committee again. As Muthalamada is a water-starved area, no water-intensive industry should be started in the area, they said.
The Coca-Cola bottling plant in the nearby Perumatty grama panchayat was closed down after a prolonged agitation. The panchayat was in the forefront of the agitation the plant that was allegedly overexploiting the groundwater affecting the water availability to the local people.
Meanwhile, the Communist Marxist Party (CMP), a constituent of the ruling UDF, urged the government to reconsider its decision to permit the distillery at Muthalamada close to the Meenkara dam. The distillery would deplete and pollute the water in this small dam, it said.
CMP district unit secretary Murali Tharekkad said the party would join hands with other political parties and the local people in their agitation against the distillery.
Special Correspondent writes from Kochi: The Kerala Samsthana Madhya Virudha Janakeeya Samara Samiti, which campaigns for a ban on alcohol use, has attacked the UDF government's move to set up a distillery at Muthalamada.
Criticising the move, N.R. Mohankumar, convener of the samiti, said that one of the reasons people voted the UDF to power was its promise to cut down liquor consumption. Instead, the government was now promoting alcoholism by setting up a 1.5 lakh-case capacity distillery at Muthalamada, which was close to Plachimada that had witnessed an iconic struggle against misuse of groundwater by a multi-national company, he said.
He warned that if the UDF government went ahead with the distillery plan, the network of anti-liquor organisations would launch a joint resistance.
Keywords: environmental issues