Coca-Cola India has agreed to hand over its 35 acres of land to the State Government in the Palakkad district of Kerala, where a defunct bottling plant of the company is located, according to reports on Saturday.
Reports say that the plant was closed in 2004, following massive protests by locals over alleged pollution and exploitation of groundwater. Addressing the company’s decision, activists associated with the protests had urged the government to ask the company to pay compensation to local habitats.
According to the statement by Kerala Chief Minister’s Office (CMO), the matter was informed by Coca-Cola CEO, Juan Pablo Rodriguez, in a written letter to CM Pinarayi Vijayan, addressing the company’s decision to hand over the land and the buildings to the state government.
The CMO said the state government has explored the option of floating a farmers’ organisation on the Coca-Cola land and has already been in discussion with the beverages company. It highlighted the past discussions with the company’s management under the leadership of Electricity Minister K Krishnankutty who represents the Chittoor Assembly constituency where the defunct plant is located. The soft-drink giant is willing to give technological support for the demo farm proposed, the CMO added.
Commenting on the matter, Krishnankutty said, the company may hand over the land to the state government free of cost. “However, we have not finalised how to utilise the land for the benefit of farmers, we need to develop a farmer-oriented project and would concentrate on deploying the local women and former employees of Coke, it will be a complete value-added agri-based venture.”
Earlier in June 2021, the state Chief minister had hinted at turning the non-functioning unit into a Covid treatment center at the cost of Rs 1.1 Crore.