Coca-Cola Plant's Closure Demanded in Rajasthan
Jaipur: Protests against a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Rajasthan are
getting louder, with NGOs and villagers blaming it for a sharp decline
in groundwater levels.
They want the plant, situated in Kaladera, 40 km from here in central
India, to be shut down.
Banwari Lal Sharma, national convenor of the Aazadi Bachao Aandolan
(ABA), or Save Our Freedom Movement, charged that the plant was drawing
about 300,000 to 400,000 litres of underground water daily.
"The electricity department's records state that previously the water
table of Kaladera was at 20-25 feet and water could be drawn by a
motor of three horsepower. But now the water table has gone down to
100-125 feet and it can now only be drawn with a motor of 10-12 horsepower".
Besides ABA, Jan Sangarsh Samiti (People's Struggle) and Kaladera
Vikas Samiti (Kaladera Development Society) are among some of the
NGOs fighting for the plant's closure. They are trying to make villagers
aware of the environmental hazards posed by the Coca-Cola plant.
Sharma said due to overdrawing of underground water by the Coca-Cola
factory, farmers in nearby villages were suffering loses of Rs.20,000-Rs.25,000
per year. Previously, the per hectare yield in this area was four
tonnes and now it has been reduced to three tonnes.
"We want this plant to go from here," said Ladu Ram, a farmer. "It
is affecting our crops," he said angrily.
"We are requesting the government to close the bottling plant or shift
it to some other place," he said.
The desert state of Rajasthan gets an annual average rainfall of only
The villagers hold the plant - set up in 1999 as part of the state's
drive to attract foreign investment - responsible for a sharp drop
in the water table in and around the area.
Voluntary organisations have formed campaign movements, protest groups,
in nearby villages and are going in for signature campaigns in villages.
"We also plan to involve schoolchildren in our exercise and plan to
hold a march from Jaipur to Kaladera to gather support for our cause
on August 9 (Quit India Movement Day), if the state government does
not close the plant," Sharma said.
On May 5, around 2,000 people had gathered near the Coca-Cola plant
in Kaladera and raised their voice demanding closure of the plant.
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