Groundwater Levels Continue Downward Spiral Around Coca-Cola Plant

For Immediate Release

India Resource Center
Contact: 

Amit Srivastava, India Resource Center +91 98103 46161 (India), +1 415 336 7584 (US)
Mahesh Yogi, Kala Dera Jan Sangharsh Samiti, India +91 98295 99140

Groundwater Levels Continue Downward Spiral Around Coca-Cola Plant

Continues Bottling in Drought Area, Farmers and Villagers Left Without Water

KALA DERA, INDIA - The Coca-Cola company has continued to
operate its bottling plant in Kala Dera in Jaipur, India even as the area
has been declared a drought area last summer and the groundwater levels
are falling sharply - leaving the largely agrarian community with
severely restricted access to water.

Data obtained this week by the India Resource Center from the Central
Groundwater Board, a government agency, confirm that groundwater levels
in Kala Dera fell precipitously again - a drop of 4.29 meters (14 feet)
in just one year between August 2008 and August 2009, from 30.83 meters
below ground level to 35.12 meters respectively.  

The latest government figures on groundwater depletion are extremely
alarming given

last year's
sharp drop in groundwater levels - 5.83 meters (19 feet)
between May 2007 and May 2008.

 
Kala Dera has never experienced such sharp drops in groundwater levels
and such precipitous drops have become common since Coca-Cola started its
bottling operations in 2000.

In the nine years prior to Coca-Cola's bottling operations in Kala
Dera, groundwater levels fell just 3 meters.  In the nine years
since Coca-Cola has been operating in Kala Dera, the groundwater levels
have dropped 22.36 meters.

 
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The community of Kala Dera and surrounding villages have challenged
Coca-Cola for depleting the water resources and destroying livelihoods,
demanding that the bottling plant be shut down.  

A study paid for by Coca-Cola and conducted by the Energy and Resources
Institute (TERI) in 2008 confirmed the community allegations and
concluded that Coca-Cola's use of water in Kala Dera was
unsustainable.  The

study
recommended that Coca-Cola shut down the plant, relocate the
plant or bring in piped water from outside the area to meet its
production needs.

 
Coca-Cola has chosen to ignore the recommendations of the study and, not
surprisingly, the groundwater conditions continue to worsen
dramatically.

 
Kala Dera is a water-stressed area and the government declared the area's
groundwater resources as over-exploited in 1998.  Yet the Coca-Cola
company built a new bottling plant in 2000. 

 
Coca-Cola refuses to share the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) it
says it conducted prior to building the plant "due to legal and
confidential reasons."  An adequate EIA should have informed
Coca-Cola that the area was already water-stressed and a bottling plant
will seriously aggravate the existing water crisis in the area.

 
Coca-Cola, meanwhile, has announced that it has become
"
water positive
" in Kala Dera, implying that they recharge more water
than they use.  Coca-Cola officials also suggest that groundwater
levels have increased as a result of their bottling operations in Kala
Dera.  A visit to Coca-Cola's rainwater harvesting structures in the
area by the India Resource Center found them ill-maintained and not
functional.  The TERI study also found all Coca-Cola rainwater
harvesting projects to be in "dilapidated" conditions.

 
"Water is life and by denying us our water, Coca-Cola is destroying our
lives and livelihoods.  We urge people around the world to put
pressure on Coca-Cola so that they shut down the bottling plant in Kala
Dera," said Mahesh Yogi of the Kala Dera Sangharsh Samiti, the community
group spearheading the campaign.

 
"Coca-Cola's continued operations in Kala Dera are nothing short of
criminal.  In spite of the growing evidence, including the company's
own study, that confirm its operations are not sustainable, the company
chooses to operate recklessly without regard to the well being of the
community.  If Coca-Cola were at all serious about being the water
steward they claim to be, it would not suck water in drought areas and it
would immediately discontinue its operations in Kala Dera," said Amit
Srivastava of the India Resource Center, an international campaigning
organization that works with the community in Kala Dera to oppose the
plant.

 
The community groups in Kala Dera and surrounding villages have vowed to
continue their campaign to shut down Coca-Cola.

 
For more information, visit
www.IndiaResource.org

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