Communities Protest Against Coca-Cola Plant in India
Government Data Confirms Drop in Groundwater Levels
For Immediate Release
June 6, 2007
Nandlal Master, Lok Samiti +91 94153 00520 (Hindi)
Amit Srivastava, India Resource Center +91 98103 46161 (India on June
6) +44 77477 47499 (UK on June 7, 8) E: info@IndiaResource.org
Varanasi (June 6, 2007): More than 400 people marched and rallied
at the Varanasi District Magistrate's office yesterday demanding that
the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Mehdiganj be shut down.
Braving the scorching heat, residents of more than twenty villages
arrived in Varanasi to rally and deliver a letter to the District
Magistrate, Mrs. Vina Kumari Meena, bringing attention to the growing
water shortages in the area and pollution of the groundwater and land
- directly as a result of Coca-Cola's bottling operations in Mehdiganj.
The letter specifically asks for the closure of the Coca-Cola bottling
plant in Mehdiganj.
Data from the Central Ground Water Board of India has confirmed that
groundwater levels have dropped in the area since Coca-Cola started
operations in the area in 1999. Pre-monsoon groundwater levels have
dropped from 6.64 meters in 1999 to 8.34 meters in 2005, a drop of
nearly 2 meters in just 6 years. Post monsoon groundwater levels have
dropped from 3 meters in 1999 to 9 meters in 2005, a sharp drop of
6 meters in just six years since Coca-Cola began operations.
Contradicting government data, the Coca-Cola company claims that water
levels have somehow risen in the area.
The area around the Coca-Cola bottling plant has also been declared
a "dark zone" by Mr. Hakim Singh, director of the District Rural Development
Agency (DRDA). A "dark zone" category implies that groundwater resources
are overexploited, and more that 85% of the total recharging of groundwater
resources is being extracted. As a result of the "dark zone" status,
all new groundwater installations have to be approved by government
"When people themselves do not have enough water to meet their basic
water needs, why should Coca-Cola be allowed to siphon hundreds of
thousands of liters of water every day?" said Nandlal Master of Lok
Samiti, the primary group spearheading the campaign to close Coca-Cola's
bottling plant in Mehdiganj.
"The government must immediately act in the public interest and stop
the Coca-Cola bottling plant from extracting groundwater," said Nandlal
The Coca-Cola company extracts about half a million liters of water
per day for the Mehdiganj bottling plant.
The rally in front of the District Magistrate's office in Varanasi
featured speeches, music, and plays, and was supported by a broad
range of groups in Varanasi, including Sajha Sanskriti Manch.
The Coca-Cola bottling plant in Mehdiganj has also been found to be
generating hazardous waste and polluting the water and soil. The Central
Pollution Control Board of India tested the sludge at Coca-Cola's
bottling plant in Mehdiganj in 2003, and ordered the company to treat
its waste as industrial hazardous waste as a result of finding excessive
levels of lead, cadmium and chromium. Prior to the CPCB order, the
Coca-Cola company was distributing its sludge to farmers in the area
A subsequent study by the People's Science Institute and the Hazards
Center in October 2006 found that both the water and the soil had
been contaminated with heavy metals as a result of Coca-Cola's indiscriminate
dumping of its toxic waste.
"It is a sad day when the Coca-Cola company announces a US$20 million
project to supposedly conserve water around the world, while at the
same time destroying the lives and livelihoods of thousands of farmers
and their environment in India as a result of their abuse of water
resources and pollution," said Amit Srivastava of the India Resource
Referring to the US$20 million project announced by the Coca-Cola
company and World Wildlife Fund, on June 5, 2007, Srivastava said,
" Not cleaning up their act locally and announcing multi-million projects
internationally is an attempt by the Coca-Cola company to paint a
green image of itself that it clearly is not. It's greenwash."
For more information, visit www.IndiaResource.org
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