For several years, Indians have been protesting against the presence of Coca Cola plants in their community. Yesterday 1500 villagers marched to the Coca-Cola company's bottling plant in Mehdiganj in Varanasi demanding that the bottling plant shut down immediately. They accuse the Coke Company of creating severe water shortages in the area and polluting the water and land.
During a two-day conference on Right to Water a representative of the Uttar Pradesh State Pollution Control Board admitted the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Mehdiganj did not have a current hazardous waste authorization required to operate.
Worse is that data collected by the Ground Water Board confirms ground water levels have dropped up to 8 meters (26 feet) in the first seven years of Coca-Cola's operations, from 1999 to 2006, leaving wells and hand water pumps dried up.
As local farmers rely on the ground water to meet their needs, and over 80% of the community in Mehdiganj engage in agriculture, "Do we need to satisfy Coca-Cola's thirst for water when even the farmers don't have enough water to make a living?" said Amit Srivastava of the India Resource Center, an international campaigning organization. He added: "All of Coca-Cola's claims of being a socially responsible corporation ring hollow when weighed against its track record in India." (Full)
Picture courtesy Sharad Haksar and Degree Copy