A Central Government which denies the right to life to its own people is a challenge to democracy, said ecologist
S Faizi, the expert member on environment of the Plachimada High-Powered Committee. He was speaking at a discussion held here on Friday on the continued blockade of the Plachimada Coca Cola Victims Relief and Compensation Claims Special Tribunal Bill, 2011.
“When the British Petroleum spilled oil in the Gulf of Mexico, the US President asked the corporation to deposit a compensation amount of 20 billion US dollars.
This was done just one week after the oil spill unlike the systematic study we did in Plachimada. Neither was a law created there for the purpose nor was it based on any explicit law in force. The corporation did not go on a campaign against the US government nor did it go to court.
But Coca Cola held campaigns against the state government, the High-Powered Committee and even the Legislative Assembly at various times.
“The British Petroleum readily agreed to pay the entire amount that was asked by the US government,” said Faizi.
But here, in spite of the state’s elected representatives passing a unanimous decision on the compensation for the victims on the same ‘polluter pays’ principle, the victims are yet to receive any compensation one-and-a-half years after the Bill was passed. The company’s counsel have now sent in arguments challenging the decision of the state government regarding the Bill, he said.
The environmentalist also remarked on the fact that one-and-a-half years after the bill was sent for the President’s approval, it has not even reached the President’s office as it is pending at the Home Ministry.
“In fact the Bill does not require any Presidential assent, it was to be passed by the approval of the Governor itself,” he said.