For Immediate Release
R. Ajayan, Plachimada Solidarity Committee, India +91 98471 42513
Nandlal Master, Lok Samiti, India +91 94153 00520
Amit Srivastava, India Resource Center, US +1 415 336 7584
Mahesh Yogi, Kala Dera Jan Sangharsh Samiti, India +91 98295 99140
Coca-Cola Not Disclosing Financial Liabilities in India
ATLANTA - The Coca-Cola company is making a big
mistake by not acknowledging the potentially large financial liabilities
it continues to incur in India as a result of its water management
practices, Coca-Cola company shareholders were told today.
Two Coca-Cola bottling plants have already been shut down in India and
two other plants face increasing opposition for creating water shortages
An assessment financed by Coca-Cola and released in January 2008 has
found fault with Coca-Cola's water management and pollution practices
around some plants in India.
The assessment has recommended that Coca-Cola shut down or relocate one
of its bottling plants, in Kala Dera, because the plant's operations
"would continue to be one of the contributors to a worsening water
situation and a source of stress to the communities around,"
according to the study.
Coca-Cola ignored the recommendations of the study.
"Coca-Cola should never have located its bottling plant in Kala Dera
where people were already experiencing water shortages before Coca-Cola
showed up. The result has been even more suffering for the
people. Farmers are losing their crops and women have to walk
longer to access water. Coca-Cola should respect the findings of
its own study and shut down the plant in Kala Dera," said Mahesh
Yogi of Kala Dera Sangharsh Samiti, a local community group challenging
The assessment also warned Coca-Cola on deteriorating water conditions in
Mehdiganj, where the community has been campaigning for the plant's
In response to the campaign, Coca-Cola has announced that it has become
water neutral in Mehdiganj by the end of 2008 - suggesting that they
somehow return nearly 100 million liters of water into the groundwater
annually. Coca-Cola also reiterated its goal to become water
neutral in India in the next eight months at the shareholders meeting, a
claim that has been called a greenwash attempt by its critics.
"Coca-Cola does not and cannot return all the water it uses back
into the local aquifer. Some of their rainwater harvesting
structures are too far away to have a positive impact on the local
aquifer in Mehdiganj. Add to that the lack of normal rainfall, and
the fact that Coca-Cola continues to extract water from a rapidly
declining water table, and it becomes clear that Coca-Cola's operations
are in no way neutral but in fact have significant impacts on
water," said Nandlal Master of Lok Samiti, the local group leading
the campaign against Coca-Cola.
One of Coca-Cola's largest bottling plants in India, in Plachimada, has
been shut down since March 2004 because of community opposition.
"Coca-Cola is refusing to accept the facts in Plachimada. Its
plant has been shut down, it cannot reopen the plant because the
government won't allow it to and the state government of Kerala has moved
to seek compensation from Coca-Cola for the damages it has caused.
Coca-Cola must accept the facts and move on," said R. Ajayan of the
Plachimada Solidarity Committee, a key statewide campaigning group.
"Coca-Cola continues to operate with impunity in Kala Dera and
Mehdiganj even though its own study has confirmed that continued
operations bring extreme hardship to the community. It is only a
matter of time before the plants will be shut down and the company will
have to pay for the damages in has caused in India. The longer they
wait to genuinely address the crisis in India, the larger their
liability," said Amit Srivastava of the India Resource Center, an
international campaigning organization, who spoke at the shareholders
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