A report submitted by a high-level committee appointed by the Kerala government said the operations of the Coca-Cola plant at Plachimada in Palakkad district in the state has adversely affected the availability of water, left borewells and shallow open wells dry and severely affected water quality in the area.
The toxic chemicals dumped by the factory all around, including in the paddy fields, contaminated the soil and ground water, making land unsuitable for cultivation, the report submitted to state minister for water resources N K Premachandran said.
The damaging report, prepared by the committee headed by state chief secretary K Jayakumar, said Coca-Cola is liable to pay damages worth a minimum Rs216.26 crore.
Plachimda, in Kerala's rice bowl Palakkad, where the Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Private Limited (HCBPL) factory was set up, had been classified 'arable'. The villagers are predominantly landless agricultural labourers with almost 80 per cent of the population depending on agriculture.
A part of the district falling in the rain shadow region of the Western Ghats, though, is drought prone.
"It is natural that an industrial plant with heavy consumption of water set up in a socially and economically backward and drought prone area would disrupt the ecological balance and adversely affect the life and livelihood of the people," the report said.