Kerala police has registered a case against multi-national soft-drink major Coca-Cola for allegedly exploiting and polluting groundwater sources of the backward Scheduled Caste community at Plachimada in Palakkad.
According to the case registered at Meenakshipuram police station, Coca-Cola's unit at Plachimada, which after being operational for some years is shut since 2004, had "willfully polluted" the water sources of Eravalas, one of the most backward Scheduled Caste communities in the region.
When contacted, company's spokesperson said a response on the issue can be given only on Monday.
Top company officials have been booked for non-bailable offences under various provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, police said.
The case has been registered against the company's all India head at Noida, Regional head at Kochi and the local head of the Plachimada unit, on a complaint lodged by Plachimada Samara Samithi, a public agitation council, police said.
Meenakshipuram Principal Sub Inspector V S Syamkumar said the company officials would be summoned, if needed, during the course of investigation.
"The case has been registered under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and the offence is non-bailable. A detailed probe and verification of documents is the next step. The company officials will be summoned if necessary," he told PTI.
Though the company's plant at Plachimada had downed shutters in 2004, the damage it caused to the livelihood of local people, especially the Eravalas, still remains, the complainant said.
Coca-Cola closed down its unit at Plachimada in March 2004, following agitation by the locals complaining of environment pollution and over exploitation of groundwater by the company.
A high-level committee appointed by the state government to report the loss caused to the people by the company had estimated the amount at Rs 216.25 crore.