Coca-Cola Continues Environmental Abuses in India

Community Demands Immediate Shut Down and Investigation

For Immediate Release
June 4, 2007

Baliram, Coca-Cola Bhagao, Krishi Bachao Sangharsh Samiti +91 94507 79325 (India) (Hindi only)
Amit Srivastava, India Resource Center +91 98103 46161 (India) +1 415 336 7584 (US) E: info@IndiaResource.org

New Delhi, India (June 4, 2007): In a shocking finding, another Coca-Cola bottling plant in India has been found to be operating in complete violation of environmental laws and regulations in India.

A fact-finding team led by the India Resource Center to a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Sinhachawar in the state of Uttar Pradesh issued a report today detailing the violations.

Illegal Dumping of Sludge at Coca-Cola Bottling Plant
Illegal Dumping of Sludge at Coca-Cola Bottling Plant
Specifically, the team found that:
  • The plant is indiscriminately dumping its sludge, considered to be industrial hazardous waste, across the plant premises, in complete violation of the laws regarding handling and disposal of industrial hazardous waste in India.
  • The Effluent Treatment Plant was non-operational, and the bottling plant was discharging its wastewater into surrounding agricultural fields and a canal that feeds into the river Ganges.
  • The plant did not disclose the amount of hazardous waste being used and generated, as required by the Supreme Court of India for all industrial units in India that deal with hazardous waste.

The full report with images can be found at http://www.indiaresource.org/campaigns/coke/2007/cokebaliafact.html, in Hindi at http://www.indiaresource.org/campaigns/coke/2007/baliahindireport.pdf

Such careless disposal of the sludge and the wastewater results in the pollution of the agricultural lands, local water supplies as well as the food chain. At stake are the very lives and livelihoods of thousands of people who live around the bottling plant premises, who are primarily farmers.

The findings are particularly disturbing because the Coca-Cola company has had ample time to align its operations in India with environmental rules and regulations, and it has been rapped for similar wrongdoings before.

In 2003, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) of India assessed the sludge at eight Coca-Cola bottling plants, and found them all to contain excessive levels of lead, cadmium or chromium. As a result, the CPCB ordered the Coca-Cola company in India to treat its waste as industrial hazardous waste, and deal with it accordingly.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) also tested the sludge around the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Plachimada in Kerala in 2003, and found it to be toxic. The Coca-Cola company was distributing the toxic sludge to farmers as ‘fertilizer’, and was ordered by government authorities to stop the practice after the toxicity of the sludge was confirmed. The BBC report found that the toxins from the sludge had polluted the groundwater.

The bottling plant in Sinhachawar is a Coca-Cola franchisee owned unit operated by the Brindavan Bottlers Limited, which is owned by India’s largest bottler of Coca-Cola, the Ladhani Group of Companies.

“Our lives have been made much more difficult after the Coca-Cola bottling plant began its operations here,” said Mr. Baliram of the locally based Coca-Cola Bhagao, Krishi Bachao Sangharsh Samiti (Get Rid of Coke, Save Farming Struggle Committee). “We are demanding that the Coca-Cola plant be shut down immediately and be investigated for any wrongdoing.”

The fact finding team, which included twenty residents from the village of Sinhachawar, also heard complaints of illegal land acquisition by the bottling plant as well as the drying up of water wells and hand water pumps since the bottling plant began operations.

“The Coca-Cola company is announcing to the world that it is an environmentally responsible company, and it has partnered with UN agencies and NGO’s to paint a pretty green picture of itself. But all that is corporate social responsibility gone wrong because the reality on the ground is different. It is littered with toxic waste and a complete disregard and destruction of the way of life as many people in rural India know it,” said Amit Srivastava of the India Resource Center.

“Coca-Cola’s track record in India is indicative of an arrogant company that operates with impunity,” said Srivastava.

The Coca-Cola company’s operations in India have been challenged by various communities across India who are experiencing severe water shortages as well as polluted water and land as a result of the company’s practices. The Coca-Cola bottling plant in Plachimada, one of the company’s largest in India, has been shut down since March 2004.

The local campaigns to challenge Coca-Cola in India have found tremendous support internationally, and particularly among college and university students in the US, UK and Canada. Just last week, the prestigious Smith College in the US announced that it will no longer do business with the Coca-Cola company because of concerns in India, ending a five decade relationship with the Coca-Cola company. Over twenty colleges and universities have taken similar actions.

The Central Pollution Control Board has been asked to investigate the pollution at the Sinhachawar bottling plant immediately, and other agencies dealing with water and land have also been asked to intervene in the matter of the offending Coca-Cola bottling plant in Sinhachawar.

The fact finding team has recommended that the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Sinhachawar be shut down immediately to prevent any further damage to the community and the environment.

For more information, visit www.IndiaResource.org


FAIR USE NOTICE. This document contains copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. India Resource Center is making this article available in our efforts to advance the understanding of corporate accountability, human rights, labor rights, social and environmental justice issues. We believe that this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use,' you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.




Home | About | How to Use this Site | Sitemap | Privacy Policy

India Resource Center (IRC) is a project of Global Resistance -- "Building Global Links for Justice"
URL: http://www.IndiaResource.org Email:IndiaResource (AT) igc.org