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Conference asks soft drink MNCs to end water exploitation

By Our Staff Reporter

PLACHIMADA (PALAKKAD), JAN. 21 . The leader of the Confederation Paysanne, the farmers' organisation of France, Jose Bove, has called upon resistance movements to launch a "worldwide struggle against transnational companies which exploit natural resources like water, by making it a priced commodity to make profit."

Inaugurating a three-day World Water Conference here today, he said: "We have to globalise our struggle to globalise the hope to live. Water belongs to all people. If you do not have water you cannot live and do your agriculture and other activities. So we are asking the water trading companies like Coca-Cola, Pepsi Cola, Vivendi and other trans-national companies to close down their operations in Plachimada and other parts of India because they exploit the water resources of the native people. The exploitation of water by these companies has deprived the local people their drinking water. These companies have to quit because they are doing criminal activity by exploiting the lifeblood of the people. So we have every right to ask them to get out of our lives and get out of the country."

He said that India had thrown out the British through a non-violent struggle and won freedom. Now, the people should get together to launch yet another struggle — against the multinational companies who are here to exploit their natural resources like soil and water. In this just struggle they had the support of the farmers of France and other resistance movements against globalisation in different parts of the world.

The chairperson of the Council of Canadian Public Advocacy Organisations, and the author of Blue Gold, Maude Barlow, in her keynote address said a multinational giant Union Carbide created the Bhopal tragedy. Now companies such as Coca-Cola play with the lives of millions of people in India.

Dr. Barlow said that worldwide there were attempts to privatise scarce water resources. Transnational corporates were trying to gain control of the remaining precious water because those who now control the "Blue Gold" would control the world.

She said that the people of Canada and other parts of the world, who are engaged in the worldwide fight to protect their drinking water, were supporting the just struggle of the people of Plachimada and other parts of India against multinational corporations such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi Cola.

The environmentalist and social activist, Vandana Shiva, said that a new hydro-piracy had emerged in the world, led by companies like Coca-Cola and Pepsi Cola. They are exploiting the remaining natural resources of the people such as water and soil. The exploitation had to be fought and the recent People's World Water Forum meeting in New Delhi had decided to organise a worldwide struggle to protect water and other natural resources.

In his presidential address, N.N. Krishnadas, MP, said that the struggle against the "water hijackers" like Coca-Cola and Pepsi Cola would be intensified in Plachimada and other parts of the country. The struggle of the tribals and other poor people of Plachimada was the symbol of the fight against the multinational companies to save natural resources. Palakkad district was reeling under drought. But governments had not taken steps to stop corporate giants from exploiting water resources.

The Perumatty Grama Panchayat president, A. Krishnan, who is engaged in a legal battle against the soft drink major at Plachimada welcomed the gathering.

More than five hundred delegates, including 30 from abroad, are attending the conference.

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