Rajasthan Village Protests Against Coke Plant
Harsha Kumari Singh
September 28, 2004
Kaladera: Rajasthan's Kaladehra village is tense after angry protests
by villagers and activists against a Coca Cola bottling plant.
The demonstrators including Magsaysay award winner Aruna Roy say the
water table in the area has fallen drastically because the soft drink
company is drawing large amounts of ground water.
The Cola giant however says recent reports of the ground water board
have established that water levels in villages around its plant are
not lower than those in other parts of Jaipur.
Protestors against the Coca Cola factory in Kaladera were arrested
by the police.
Activists, who have agitated against Coca Cola in Benares and Kerala,
have joined local villagers in Rajasthan to carry out a sustained
campaign against the cola bottling plant alleging that it has seriously
depleted ground water in the area.
"There's no water in the wells. Farmers are desperate for water. Then
how is there water for Coca Cola?" says Om Prakash Kumawat, a panchayat
"On the grounds of health we oppose Coca Cola. It is nothing that
gives us any nutrition, we have malnourished children, undernourished
women, we have low anemic levels. We don't need Coca Cola here, we
need milk, butter milk, dahi and ghee," says Aruna Roy, an activist
of the Jan Sangharsh Samiti.
Coke refutes charges
But Coca Cola says recent reports by the state ground water board
show that the fall in the water table in Kaladera is actually much
less than other neighbouring areas.
For example the annual fall in the water table in Kaladera is 1.43
metres while in neighbouring Chomu village the decline is 2.92 metres
Of its four sanctioned tubewells, the plant uses only two.
And of the eight other industries in the area, Coca Cola claims it
is the only one that runs a water harvesting programme.
"Apart from us no one has worked on water conservation, despite that
people are targetting us," says Arjun Singh, a spokesman of the Coca
Other groups lobbying for Coke claim that it is unfair to target only
Coca Cola in a state where other beverage companies also have similar
With public opinion divided on the issue, it looks like the debate
on Coke will continue.
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