Close down Coca-Cola plant: VS

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM Nov. 13. The Leader of the Opposition, V.S. Achuthanandan, has urged the Government to order closure of the Plachimada Coca-Cola plant in view of study reports confirming presence of pesticide residues beyond permissible levels in the soft drink.

In a statement here today, Mr. Achuthanandan said that studies conducted by the Central Government approved Sri Ram Industrial Research Foundation had revealed that residues of DDT, Lindain and Malatheon were much beyond the European Union standard of 0.0001 milligram per litre. The Institute had communicated this to the Director of Health Services and he had communicated this to the Government, but there was still no action on the issue. He wondered why the Government was not initiating action against the company when it had sufficient evidence with it to show that the Plachimada plant had made life difficult for thousands of local people.

The State Pollution Control Board had found that water in the public wells in the area had cadmium beyond permissible levels. The Ground Water Department had found that the water level in the nearby wells and ponds was falling at an alarming rate.

This being the case, allowing the company to function in the area would be tantamount to denying the people their right to survival.

Council demand: The Plachimada Aikyadartya Samithy (Plachimada Solidarity Council) has also urged the State Government to order the closure of the bottling plants of Coca-Cola and Pepsi in Palakkad district in the light of fresh findings.

In a statement here today, the council convener, R. Ajayan, wondered why the State Government was `so unwilling' to release any laboratory result that were damaging to the two multinational soft drink giants.

The Kerala State Pollution Control Board too had conducted studies on the sludge and water samples collected from Plachimada and Kanjikode, in Palakkad district, where Coca-Cola and Pepsi have bottling units.

It had become public knowledge that the pollution board had withheld crucial information on the presence of the heavy metal, cadmium, in the sludge and water samples collected from the area.