Minister for Water Resources Admits Excessive Groundwater Use by Coca-Cola
Business Standard
September 2, 2004

Kolkata: Soft drinks manufacturers like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo will have to work with the ministry of water resources to replenish the groundwater they use to produce the branded beverages, P R Dasmunsi, Union minister for water resources, said at a seminar here on 'Rainwater harvesting & groundwater recharge', organised jointly by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) and Bharat Chamber of Commerce (BCC).

The ministry would seek corporate sector participation for preserving and re-charging the ground water resources, said Dasmunsi.

Voluntary participation of softdrinks manufacturers , corporate bodies and other private players is the only way for successful completion of the project, the minister pointed out.

Excessive water usage by these industries along with power producing industries and other water intensive industries was a credible threat to the country's ground water (GW) resources.

In order to bring some 'regulation ' on water usage , the ministry has asked state government for their opinion. After receiving these, the Centre would consult the ministry of environment and forests for final action.

The minister said the government would form a 'Rain water harvesting council' with FICCI, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and corporate bodies for implementing a rain harvesting project at the national level.

The Central Ground Water Board has come up with a master plan for recharging GW at a national level. Overall participation of village level governing bodies like panchayats and zila parishads were essential for overall success.

Wastage of water in rural areas was another issue of concern. "There should be some sort of financial obligation with usage of water, but marginal and poor farmers can be kept outside the the purview of such charges" Dasmunsi added.

Addressing several concerning issues like contamination, lowering ground water level, wastage of water at some regions of the country might convert water to a 'commodity' with high price , feared the minister.

Presently, 8 per cent area of the country is experiencing decline in ground water levels of more than 20 cm per year and if it continues like this, then by the end of the twelfth finance commission," he said. This issues would become "critical, difficult and perhaps impossible to control", said the minister.

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