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From
S.Faizi
R2 Saundarya Apartments
Nandavanam, Thiruvananthapuram
biodiversity@rediffmail.com
(Environmental Expert Member: Kerala Groundwater Authority; Chairman: Indian Biodiversity Forum)

To:

Mr.Shashi Tharoor

Chairman
Afras Ventures
230 Park Avenue, Suite 2525
New York, NY 10169

Dear Mr Tharoor,

I have read with interest your response to the Plachimada Struggle Solidarity Committee’s criticism of your being in a PR project of the Coca Cola company in India, in Hindu and the full text on a web site that carries  your PR material. I do not have a grain of opposition to your being in the cola PR outfit, for it is natural for people like to you to be in places like that. However, I am writing this public response to you in order to address the misinformation contained in your letter, outdoing even the PR staff of the company, and the unwarranted sweeping remarks you have made on Kerala development. Continue Reading »

Fishy Tharoor

Among the “high profile” candidates in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, much touted and vaunted by the media is the former career diplomat, Shashi Tharoor. Tharoor, a prolific writer of fiction and commentaries, spent nearly three decades in the United Nations; infact his final “claim to fame” vis-a-vis the UN was his bid to become the secretary general of the organisation. He lost the bid to Ban Ki Moon of South Korea. Continue Reading »

The agitation by residents of Plachimada in Kerala’s Palakkad district and nearby villages against the multinational giant Coca Cola is 2,500 days old. It thus becomes the longest popular struggle in the State’s history.

The MNC set up the Plachimada plant in 1999. As the factory depleted and polluted their water sources, the villagers, mainly Adivasis, began an agitation on April 22, 2002, with a symbolic blockade and continuous picketing.

When the panchayats stepped in to protect the interests of the villagers, the company dragged it into costly legal proceedings that extended all the way to the Supreme Court.
Eventually, however, the company had to shut down the plant as the State Pollution Control Board and the panchayats refused licences for continued working.

Mylamma, an Adivasi woman who emerged as the leading spokesperson of the Adivasis, has since died.

Although expert committees have upheld the villagers’ contention that the company has polluted their water sources, the government has desisted from taking any punitive action against it.

Velur Swaminathan, Secretary, Plachimada Adivasi Samrakshana Sangham (Tribal Protection Council) and R. Ajayan, Convener, Plachimada Samara Aikyadardya Samithi (Agitation Solidarity Committee) last week wrote an Open Letter to former UN Under Secretary General Shashi Tharoor taking exception to his association with the company as a member of the advisory board of Coca Cola India Foundation.

They listed the following charges against the company:

Coca Cola polluted the ground water with deadly toxic and carcinogenic cadmium and lead, which it has not listed under ‘raw materials’, and refused to provide an explanation for their presence.

Coca Cola distributed and spread the deadly toxic and carcinogenic cadmium and lead through its waste sludge and slurry, passing them off as good soil nutrients.

Coca Cola did not supply piped water to the affected families as ordered by the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee on Hazardous Waste.

Coca Cola, as the single largest extractor of ground water and largest transporter of water to other centres through soft drinks, a non-essential luxury good, made the most contribution to depletion of ground water.

A tribute to Mylamma

Mylamma : The icon of Plachimada struggle

Mylamma : The icon of Plachimada struggle

Mylamma  was an adivasi woman , a resident of Vijayanagar colony  in Plachimada village, in Kerala.  Do a google search for the word “Plachimada” and one realizes that this little village has already become an international example of the on-going struggles all over the world,  between ordinary citizens and big- time corporates.

The Plachimada  protest is against the Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages Pvt. Ltd. , which established its bottling plant in Perumatty Panchayat, in Palakkad District. The story is one of ground water depletion and surface pollution. British Broadasting Corporation had featured it twice. The following is extracted from a report on the subject, that featured in the “Pipal Tree”, on the 15th of May, this year.

“They came to our village with glittering offers; that our people would get many job opportunities in the plant; the overall development of our village would be taken care of; the economic growth of the area would be strengthened etc. We waited and waited… nothing miraculous happened. On the contrary, six months went by, slowly we started facing the reverse effects. Except a few, nobody from the locality was given jobs. The water level in the wells of the surrounding colonies showed a sharp depletion. The quality of the water -its odour, taste, hardness- got worsened. It became non-potable. We stopped using it. We were forced to fetch water from a distance of three to five kilometres. Several uncommon diseases started showing their neck out. The farmers around the plant stopped cultivation due to severe shortage of water. This was another thunderbolt on us that took away our daily little earnings. We were forced to migrate to faraway lands, seeking for some work or other to make our living. Suddenly we felt terribly helpless, facing the fact that we were being robbed. Our precious water resource had been stolen… lakhs of liters every day… Where would I get some fresh and pure drinking water any more? How many kilometers should we have to walk to fetch a drop of water? Who will compensate the heavy loss incurred upon us by this giant plant?”

These are the words of Mylamma, who had been leading the Plachimada protest till she died earlier on, this year. She was suffering from psoriasis and the fatigue wrought by her continuous hard work in keeping the protest alive, probably aggravated her condition and she finally succumbed.

SHASHI & CHRISTA:

We don’t know whether congratulations are in order. We’ve known it for years but did not mention it. Now the not so secret affair is at last officially no secret anymore. Shashi Tharoor and Christa Giles, we were reliably informed, just married. When Shashi was leapfrogged by Kofi Annan to head the Department of Public Information and while still officially married, he moved Christa with him to that Department, installing her (with a promotion?) on the same tenth floor — just off the elevator (for ease of movement?).

It was supposed to be hush-hush, but everyone in the Department was talking. No rules had been broken because technically they were not married, but it smacked of nepotism — although nobody was certain who had more influence: Christa or Christo. Continue Reading »

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