Thursday, September 11, 2014

30 lakh liters of Narmada water to Cola: Why waste water in Gujarat, Maharashtra and MP, asks Patkar

By Our Representative
Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar has strongly objected to the Gujarat government move to provide whopping 30 lakh litres per day of Narmada water to the proposed Coca Cola plant to come up in Sanand region in Ahmedabad district. In a statement, Patkar has said, the Rs 500 crore Coca Cola plant in Sanand, being set up in an area next to the Tatas’ Nano plant, will be provided with Narmada water over and above 90 lakh litres per day of water which has already been “committed” to be provided to industrialists in Sanand, an upcoming industrial area.
At present two major manufacturing units in Sanand – Nano and Ford – are being provided with 20 lakh litres of Narmada water, Patkar said, underlining, the development suggests what is the “basic idea behind the Sardar Sarovar project.” The Gujarat government decision to give 30 lakh litres of Narmada waters to Coca Cola comes at a time when, Patkar added, already “many public protests are happening against the company’s plants across India.” In fact, Coca Cola has been “criticized world over for exploiting the ground water resources."
According a report, state government has allotted 1.85 lakh square meters of land to Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt Ltd (HCCBPL), the largest bottling partner of Coca-Cola Company in India. "This plant will manufacture soft-drinks like Coke, Sprite, Fanta and Thumbs Up within an industrial cluster which is a no-effluent zone", the report stated. The Gujarat government has not contradicted the report, which quotes a senior official to substantiate its information. 
Patkar said, “The Sardar Sarovar project was pushed in the name of providing Narmada water to the drought stricken parts of North Gujarat, Saurashtra and Kutch. This resulted into the submergence of villages, high yielding farms, temples and mosques, and forests of the tribal people in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. After such huge losses, now the government is trying to befool people and has planned to provide precious water to Coca Cola, a consumer goods manufacturing company.”
Accusing the Gujarat government of making “a policy shift” away from the promise to provide water, with prime agricultural land being handed over to industrialists, Patkar said, what is worse is, “the state government has started the allotment of 4 lakh hectare (ha) land around the Sardar Sarovar dam for non-agricultural purposes.” This act of the state government, she added, will “change the basic purpose of the project, yet it is not being questioned by either the Maharashtra or the Madhya Pradesh government.”
All this is happening at a time when, Patkar said, “according to the documents furnished by the government, the total cost of the Sardar Sarovar Project has increased from Rs 4,200 crore to Rs 90,000 crore. Some 40-45,000 families, living in the submerged area around the Sardar Sarovar, are still waiting for their rehabilitation. An inquiry commission, headed by Justice Shravan Shankar Jha, is still probing into the reckless behaviour of the government in rehabilitation of these people and massive corruption in the whole process.”
Pointing out that all this is happening at a time when the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, is already in force, Patkar said, the displaced people should be treated as village natives, who should continue to be in possession of their land. “This is one of the reasons why effort to displace these people is unlawful”, she added.

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