TAMIL NADU

CPI plans tougher `battle' against soft drink unit

To support hunger strike to be held on July 8

Staff Reporter

TIRUNELVELI: The Communist Party of India has vowed to wage a battle to protect the Thamirabarani from being "looted" by South India Bottling Company Limited (SIBCL), which is setting up a unit at SIPCOT Industrial Complex at Gangaikondan near here to produce a range of beverages for multi-national softdrink major, Coca Cola.

Addressing a public meeting organised by the CPI's `Thamirabarani Protection and Anti-Coca-Cola Movement' at Sankar Nagar, about 9 km from here on Monday, the party's national executive council member, R. Nallakannu, said that people from the southern districts, especially from Tirunelveli, were migrating to slums of Mumbai in search of jobs as agriculture had come to a grinding halt in most parts of the district despite the presence of a perennial river. In a bid to put an end to the exodus and ensure perpetual peace here, political parties were clamouring for hefty investment in this region.

"However, starting a unit like Coca Cola's SIBCL cannot be accepted as it is planning to draw huge quantity of water from Thamirabarani, which will worsen the situation further. Besides, chemical effluents generated by the unit will damage the environment. If the SIBCL is interested in giving employment opportunities to jobless youths, it may set up its unit in a remote coastal area and establish a desalination plant to get water," Mr. Nallakannu suggested.

He announced that the party would extend its support to the proposed hunger strike by Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sangangalin Paeravai to be held at Sankar Nagar on July 8 against Coca Cola.

The Tenkasi MP, M. Appadurai, said that the unit, which would get Thamirabarani water from the SIPCOT at a rate of 1.50 paise per litre, would sell the same for Rs.12 per litre. The CPI would raise the issue in Parliament, he said.

The party's Kovilpatti MLA, S. Rajendran, district secretaries, T. Ramasamy of Virudhunagar, L. Ayyalusamy of Tuticorin, R. Shanmugavelu of Tirunelveli, and the AITUC district secretary, S. Kasi Viswanathan, spoke.

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