18718Re: [Arkitect India] Fwd: Plachimada Coca Cola Victims Compensations Claims Tribunal Bill 2011 passed by the Kerala Legislative Assembly (India) - inordinate delay in the issue of Presidential assent. [2 Attachments]
- Feb 18, 2014Thank you, Mr Faizi.I will write a similar appeal to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva on the massive environmental degradation created by the garment and leather exporting units in Tirupur, Erode, Karur, Namakkal, Salem & Dindigul districts of Tamilnadu with the active assistance from the state & central govts.Sankara Narayanan.On Tue, Feb 18, 2014 at 11:29 AM, Faizi S <s.faizi111@...> wrote:[Attachment(s) from Faizi S included below]MEDIA RELEASEPl see below copy of the petition to the UN Human Rights Commission on the virtual denial of Presidential assent to the Plachi/Cola compensation Bill.S.Faizi
Member: Expert Group on Biodiversity and Development of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
Chairperson: Board of the CBD Alliance www.cbdalliance.org (global environmental civil society platform)
Consultant (Biodiversity): UNDP---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Faizi S <s.faizi111@...>
Date: Tue, Feb 18, 2014 at 7:41 AM
Subject: Plachimada Coca Cola Victims Compensations Claims Tribunal Bill 2011 passed by the Kerala Legislative Assembly (India) - inordinate delay in the issue of Presidential assent.
Environment Expert Member
Plachimada High-power Committee of the Govt. of Kerala
R-2, Soundaray Apartments, Nandavanam 695033, India
s.faizi111@... Mob: +91-9497012590
Dr Marc Pallemaerts
Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Sub: Plachimada Coca Cola Victims Compensations Claims Tribunal Bill 2011 passed by the Kerala Legislative Assembly (India) - inordinate delay in the issue of Presidential assent.
Dear Dr. Pallemaerts,
This petition is to seek your intervention for the issuance of Presidential assent for the captioned legislation passed by the Kerala Legislative Assembly. Since the inordinate delay in doing so caused by the Government of India amounts to subversion of the Constitutional process in India, and all domestic options have been exhausted I am left with no further option but to approach the Special Rapporteur. The cause of the issue at hand is the callous mismanagement of hazardous waste and the depletion of precious ground water by a multinational corporation and hence I am addressing this to you.
The issue and its background:
A bottling unit set up by Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages Private Limited (HCBPL) in Plachimada locality in the drought-prone Palakkad district of Kerala State, India had caused massive depletion of ground water and extensive pollution from its sludge containing high levels of cadmium, arsenic and lead, and categorised as hazardous waste according to the Hazardous Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules 1989 of India. The life of the village community was endangered which forced them to mount a protracted agitation leading to the intervention of the Hazardous Waste Monitoring Committee of the Supreme Court of India. Eventually the company was closed down in 2004 but the company has not provided compensation for the massive damage caused to the local community and the area’s ecology. Considering the gravity of the issue the Kerala Government established a High Power Committee in 2009 to study and measure the scale of damage caused by the company operations and to recommend ways for redressal. The Plachimada High Power Committed, whose Environment Expert Member I was, in its report submitted in 2010 made an estimate of the minimum financial loss of damages caused by the Coca Cola company at Rs. 2162.6 million (USD 39.32 million) and determined that the company has breached nine different laws in force in the State. The High Power Committee also recommended the formation of a special tribunal as provided by the Indian Constitution, through the due process of law. A copy of the report of the High Power Committee is available here http://www.groundwater.kerala.gov.in/english/pdf/report_text.pdf If you would like to receive a hard copy and annexure I can send you the same.
Accepting the findings and the recommendations of the High Power Committee, the Kerala govt introduced in the State Legislative Assembly the Plachimada Coca Cola Victims Compensations Claims Tribunal Bill 2011 and it was unanimously passed on 24, Feb-2011. I am attaching a copy of the Bill. The Bill seeks to establish a special tribunal where claims of the Coca Cola victims will be heard and addressed with due consideration of the arguments of the Cola company. The Bill was thereafter sent by the Governor of Kerala to the President of India, through the Ministry of Home Affairs of the Government of India, for the assent of the President, in order to secure the legal strength of the law in the event of any future arguments of repugnance with any laws created by the Indian Parliament. It is now approaching three years and still there has been no decision on the Bill by the President of India, neither assenting nor declining.
It is indeed surprising that the Home Ministry of the Government of India has not even passed on the Bill to the President of India in all these three years. It may also be noted that all the ministries of the Government of India related to the subject matter of the Bill have provided categorical approval for issuing Presidential assent to the Bill. These ministries are the Ministry of Agricultural, Ministry of Rural Development, Ministry of water Resources, Ministry of Food Processing Industry and the Department of Justice under the Ministry of Law (copies of their official communications providing approval are available with me and can be sent if needed). The only ministry that has not provided categorical approval but only vaguely commented on the Bill is the Ministry of Environment and Forest who has repeated the argument of the Coca Cola company that the new law is repugnant to the Green Tribunal Act 2010. This is obviously an invalid argument as it fails to note the time bar of five years for raising claims set by the Green Tribunal Act (Section 15.3 of the Act). This Act cannot address the Plachimada issue that was already ten years old when the Bill was enacted in 2011.
I have written three letters to the Government of India, at various points of time, expressing concern about the inordinate delay in the issuance of the Presidential assent and calling for early action; my last letter, together with three former ministers of the State, addressed to the President was on 29-Oct-2012, a copy of which is attached here. Seven members of the Parliament have met with the President and appealed to him to issue the assent without further delay. The issue was raised in both houses of the Parliament of India and in the Kerala Legislative Assembly but to no avail. All this while the affected community has been peacefully agitating at Plachimada, at Trivandrum in front of the Government Secretariat, in from of the official residence of the Chief Minister and in front of the residence of the Defence Minister of Government of India and they were holding peaceful demonstrations in New Delhi. As I am writing this several members of the affected community are on an indefinite hunger strike at Plachimada. The Government of India is however not paying heed apparently influenced by the Coca Cola company’s lobbying. The Coca Cola company is apparently using all means at its command to block the final enactment of the Bill. They are also incessantly supported by the diplomatic missions of the US Government in India. For instance, even long before the passage of the Bill the US Consular General in Chennai visited the then Minster of local self-Government Mr. Kutti Ahammed Kutti to personally influence him not to proceed with any case against the Cola Company as demanded by the laws of the land. The victims are poor people and helpless while the govt is subverting the Constitutional procedures at the instance of the powerful Cola company and therefor the intervention of the UN Commission on Human Right is very critical.
I am raising this complaint as the last resort having exhausted all other options. The Government of India is glaringly violating the Constitutional process by inordinately delaying the process for issuing Presidential assent which amounts to virtual declining of the Bill. The Bill is in with article 21 of the Indian Constitution, termed as Right to Life, and is in accordance with the provision for compensation for environmental damage and polluter pays principle as contained in the Rio de Janeiro Declaration 1992. The Government of India's delaying tactics also constitutes a breach of privilege of the Kerala Assembly that has passed the Bill by consensus, respecting the public opinion on the issue.
I would request your intervention directing the Government of India to expedite the issuance of Presidential assent to the Bill and to fulfill its Constitutional obligation and multilateral commitments. I have a huge volume of data and documents to substantiate my arguments and am repaired to provide any further documents upon your asking.
Thanking you for your consideration,
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