Deadline: April 10th, Transforming Health Systems

Deadline: April 10th, Transforming Health Systems
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Plea for damages referred to panel

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The State Groundwater Authority has decided to refer the plea for payment of compensation to the people of Plachimada for the damages sustained by them on account of pollution allegedly caused by Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages Private Limited to a high-power committee of the government.
The Authority, which took up the report of a sub-committee constituted by it earlier to look into the question of payment of compensation as demanded by the Plachimada Struggle Solidarity Committee and the Plachimada Adivasi Samrakshana Sanghom, felt that there was need for assessing the exact damages that the people in the locality might have sustained on account of the operations of the company. The meeting concluded that while there was merit in the argument for payment of compensation, the actual assessment of the damages can be undertaken only through a coordinated initiative by different government departments, informed sources said.
The Authority was also of the view that the question as to how and from whom the compensation could be secured would have to be gone into some detail as the company had been remaining closed for the last four years. The two organisations seeking compensation have cited the manner in which compensation was awarded to the victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy as a model that could be looked into.
The Authority also recommended changes in the Kerala Groundwater Act to provide for stiffer penalty for over-exploitation of groundwater resources.
Among the recommendations was one for enhancement of the fine payable by persons found guilty of over-exploitation from the present Rs.500 for the first offence to Rs.2,000. The Authority was of the view that repeat offenders must be met with a fine of Rs.4,000 and three-time offenders must be criminally proceeded against.
The Authority also approved the plans for a campaign to create awareness of registration of draw wells in the State.
Author: C. Gouridasan Nair