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Thousands form `human chain' for closure of soft drink units

By Our Staff Reporter

PALAKKAD, MARCH 29. The Leader of the Opposition, V.S. Achuthanandan, has demanded that the UDF Government take steps to close down the Coca-Cola unit at Plachimada and the Pepsi-Cola unit at Kanjikode for exploiting groundwater.

He was inaugurating a public meeting in connection with a `human chain' programme organised by the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) demanding the closure of the factories, at the Collectorate today.

Mr. Achuthanandan said that Palakkad had suffered due to the shortfall in monsoon, the diversion of water from the Bharathapuzha under the inter-State Parambikulam-Aliyar Project (PAP) agreement and from Bhavani and Siruvani by Tamil Nadu. In addition to this, the soft drink giants were exploiting groundwater from the area. This has denied the fundamental rights of the people over groundwater.

He said that the two Cola factories alone exploited 25 lakh litres of groundwater daily. The farmers in the district were also facing severe shortage of water as well as crash in prices of paddy during the current harvest season.

The State Government had failed to keep its promise to procure paddy at Rs.7.80 for matta and Rs.7.30 for white rice from the farmers. This had resulted in distress sale at a price of Rs.4 to 5 a kg. The Government's move was to help private rice mill owners who buy paddy at distress price, he alleged.

Thousands of people joined the `human chain' from Plachimada and Kanjikode to the civil station.

The protest programme in front of the Hindustan Coca-Cola Limited unit at Plachimada was joined by the former MP Subhashini Ali, P.K. Sreemathy, All India Democratic Women's Association leader at Vandithavalam, M.A. Baby, CPI(M) Central Committee member at Anikode, the CPI(M) secretariat member M. Chandran and K. Chandran Pillai, MP, at Pudussery, Mr. Achuthanandan, the DYFI secretary, Thapas Sinha, N.N. Krishnadas, MP, S. Ajayakumar, MP, and others in front of the Collectorate.

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