Rajasthan Village Council Wants Coca-Cola Out

March 15, 2005
The Hindu

KALADERA (RAJASTHAN): The Kaladera village panchayat has sounded a bugle of protest against the multinational soft drinks giant, Coca-Cola, by adopting a resolution announcing that it would shortly issue a notice to the company demanding that it close down its bottling plant in the village in view of its "indiscriminate exploitation" of ground water reserves that has "led to a sharp decline in the water table".

The newly-elected Kaladera Sarpanch, Chhitarmal Harijan, and the Deputy Sarpanch, Chiranjilal Bhala, stated at a "Jan Adalat" (people's court) organised today in this dusty village, 40 km from Jaipur, that "if needed", a massive public agitation would be launched to drive the multinational company out of the village so as to save the poor farmers and agricultural labourers. "The extraction of colossal amounts of water by the Coca-Cola factory has destroyed agriculture in Kaladera and nearby villages," said the resolution.

Mr. Harijan said the village panchayat, which passed the unanimous resolution in the Gram Sabha organised here on March 5, had taken the cue from a similar action launched by the elected village body at Plachimada in Kerala, where a series of agitations had led to a prolonged litigation and resulted in the closure of the Coca-Cola plant.

"We hereby take the pledge not to allow Coca-Cola to deprive us of our right to use our own water," he declared amid applause by a large number of villagers. The Jan Sangharsh Samiti -spearheading the agitation against the Cola-Cola factory organised the Jan Adalat in the village as an event giving an opportunity to the people and elected representatives in the region to voice their concern and strengthen the movement.

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