Book Release: The Saga of Plachimada

The Saga of Plachimada, written by Dr. P. R. Sreemahadevan Pillai and published by Vikas Adhyayan Kendra, Mumbai, is being released at 1 p.m. on 14 Feb 2008, at the venue of the VIBGYOR International Short and Documentary film festival at Thrissur

THE SAGA OF PLACHIMADA

CONTENT

1. Introduction

2. What is in the Cola?

3. Plachimada – the story

4. Plachimada – the land

5. Plachimada – the people

6. Plachimada and water

7. Plachimada and health

8. Plachimada and the Government

9. Plachimada – the symbol

10.Plachimada – the implications

PREFACE

Environmental regulation has experienced tremendous growth in the last quarter of the century resulting in a heavily centralized command-and-control bureaucracy overseeing all aspects of environmental protection including enforcement. Still there are many regions severely polluted by the functioning of industries and stressed by resource crunch, including scarcity of drinking water, which has made the lives of the people there difficult in many aspects. Water is a prime natural resource very essential for life. The amount of potable surface water available is only 0.38% of the total amount of water available on the whole of earth. Kerala State in India is rich in such resources with 44 rivers. Palakkad (Palghat) district of the Kerala State has the highest percent of irrigated land in the State and also has a good potential of water resources. The water available at Plachimada in Palakkad district was suitable for domestic and industrial purposes. It was in the year 2000 that the Coca Cola bottling plant was set up in Plachimada, after which there was a considerable depletion in the ground water and also degradation in the quality of the available water, making it unsuitable for domestic purposes.

When the people at Plachimada resisted the overexploitation of ground water by the multinational corporation, the Coca Cola, it took a new dimension of fight for existence. Environmentalists and human rights activists rallied behind the adivasis of Plachimada in their historic resistance against the scrupulous exploitation of the natural resource with profit motive. Plachimada became a global symbol of a new movement. Though the struggle was begun by the resident adivasis of Plachimada, the involvement of the environmentalists and Government agencies gave some academic input to the whole issue. A lot of investigations were made by institutions and individuals on the depletion and pollution of ground water at Plachimada, the accumulation of toxic elements in water and plants, the health hazards in the locality etc. The author and his team have conducted two such studies from 2004 to 2006. The first study was sponsored by the Science, Technology and Environment Department of the Government of Kerala and the second one was sponsored by the Vikas Adhyayan Kendra, Mumbai (erstwhile Bombay). The results of both these studies as also relevant results of the studies conducted by others are included in this book.

The socio-economic impacts of Coca Cola at Plachimada is also a matter of concern. Analysis in this line is worth comprehending. Being associated with the struggle from its beginning, the author had chances to address the mass gathering of protestors at Plachimada on some occasions. Plachimada has now become a catch word and hence a comprehensive document on this historical struggle is a sine qua non. Information and photographs provided by many well-wishers and voluntary organizations by e-mail have been utilized in this book. Since the original author or photographer is not known in most of the cases, they could not be properly acknowledged. This may kindly be excused, for a noble cause. The medical information provided by Mr. V. T. Padmanabhan and socio-economic data provided by Mr. Oamjie John are utilized extensively and are gratefully acknowledged. This book came out because of the constant persuasion and inspiration of Mr. Ajit Murikkan and Mr. Mustafa Desamangalam. This book is dedicated to the more than a billion people of the world, deprived of safe drinking water.