Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Convention On Plachimada Struggle:January 20, 2006

The State has appealed against the High Court ruling that permitted Coca Cola to extract up to 5 lakh liters per day and that perumatty Panchayat should issue license. Coca Cola suceeded in getting the Kerala government to attempt tp broker a fresh deal between the Coca Cola, the State and the Panchayat excluding the struggle/Solidarity Committee, to identify options that would benefit Coca cola such as declaration of Plachimada as an industrial area to overcome the restrictions placed on ground water, shifting the plant to Kanjicode, an industrial area, with liberal sops from the state etc. Perumatty Panchayat has issued license with 13 conditions to comply with the High Court ruling. Coca Cola has accepted the license under protest. No criminal charges has yet been filed against Coca Cola for the crime against the people despite the piling up of evidences. The factory at Plachimada remain closed awaiting favourable judgement in the cases filed and which are in the Supreme Court.

The struggle of the people of Plachimada has finally recieved legitimacy from general public across the state, from most of the political parties in the state, from the State through its appeal against the high court judgement, from small and large protest groups and social and political movements from the state and across the country. It has also received the support of various student unions besides others, in the US and Europe, through boycotts causing Coca Cola to lose contracts in university campuses. Yet the ground water of Plachimada has not changed. No action has been taken against Coca Cola. No action has been taken to change the laws that has proved to be ineffective to handle such major crimes against the people.

The issues of who has the primary rights over water and the right of governance of water are now in the Supreme Court for it to de! cide upon when these are subject matters to be finalised in the political arena through democratic process and is not for the courts to determine. It is in these circumstances that the Anti Coca Cola Struggle Committee and the Plachimada Solidarity Committee is giving a call for this Convention on 20 January 2006.

The Plachimada struggle has been able to get the state, political system and the judiciary to respond to the problem. The challenge before us is that the state, the political system and the judiciary have clearly failed to address the survival question of Plachimada. Clearly, it indicates that it is now for the people to reclaim and assert their legitimate rights and establish their power to govern themselves for equity and justice. It is this challenge that need to be addressed through a new phase of struggle. The Convention is expected to raise and clarify these to contribute to the evolution of strategies to address these issues politically and democratically.&nbs! p;