The Kerala Assembly on Thursday approved a bill to establish a tribunal to realise damages from soft drink maker Coca-Cola for alleged losses and environmental damage caused by the operation of its now defunct plant in Plachimada in Palakkad district.
The legislation, 'Plachimada Coca-Cola victims' relief and compensation claims special tribunal-2011', proposes to set up a three-member tribunal comprising a chairperson, an administrative member and an expert.
They will hold office for two years and have the power to process compensation claims against the company for alleged losses due to violation of regulations relating to the use of air and water.
Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Ltd said it was ''disappointed'' over the development and regretted that the company had not been given opportunity to present facts. ''This Bill is devoid of facts, scientific data or any input from or consideration given to the company,'' it added.
The enactment of the law follows recommendations of a government-appointed high-power committee that quantified the damage allegedly caused by the plant.
In its March 2010 report to the government, the committee, headed by then additional chief secretary K Jayakumar, pegged the loss to agriculture, health, water, wages and environment on account of operation of the Plachimada plant at Rs216.26 crore.
While the loss to agriculture was fixed at Rs84.16 crore, that to health was stated to be Rs30 crore. There was also loss of Rs20 crore on account of wages and opportunity cost while that of providing water to villagers came to Rs20 crore. The damage from pollution was estimated to be worth Rs62.10 crore.
The ruling Left Front and the opposition Congress were unanimous in enacting the bill.