Major Rally Against Coca-Cola in India
Communities Oppose Proposed Coca-Cola Bottling Plant
For Immediate Release
August 10, 2005
New Delhi (August 10, 2005): In a major show of force, over 1,500 people rallied against
a proposed Coca-Cola bottling plant in Gangaikondan village in Tirunelveli
district in southern India on August 9, 2005.
Communities from across the southern state of Tamilnadu converged
in Gangaikondan to oppose a proposal by South India Bottling Company
Private Limited (SIBCL) - a Coca-Cola franchisee - to set up an Indian
Rupees 280 million (US$ 6.5 million) soft-drinks unit in the village.
Water scarcity is a common problem in the region, and a broad based
movement has emerged to stop the Coca-Cola plant from coming up -
insisting that a bottling plant will further exacerbate water scarcity
in the area. Communities contend that water needs for drinking and
agriculture are not being met, and such a water-intensive factory
has no place in the area.
"We are demanding that Coca-Cola quit India," said T. Fatimson of
the Campaign for Right to Livelihood and Food Security, one of the
organizers of the rally. The rally coincided with the anniversary
of the "Quit India" movement, initiated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1942
demanding an immediate end to British colonial rule in India.
Coca-Cola company officials, along with their franchisee, SIBCL, have
refused to make public full details of the bottling plant, in spite
of repeated demands from the community. As a result, many questions
remain unanswered. India Resource Center investigations, for example,
have found that while the franchisee claims to have secured permission
for extracting 500,000 liters of water per day, the state Pollution
Control Board documents have earmarked 900,000 liters for the plant.
Coca-Cola's operations in India have come under intense scrutiny as
many communities are experiencing severe water shortages as well as
contaminated groundwater and soil, directly as a result of Coca-Cola's
bottling operations. A massive movement has emerged across India to
hold the Coca-Cola company accountable for its actions.
Community representatives from Plachimada and Sivagangai, sites of
two successful campaigns against Coca-Cola in India, were also present
at the rally, and a delegation from Gangaikondan had visited Plachimada
in early August. The Plachimada plant, one of Coca-Cola's largest
bottling facilities in India, has remained shut down for seventeen
months now because the village council has refused to renew its license,
citing the company for causing water shortages and pollution.
Various political parties as well as a broad range of groups, such
as the South Tamilnadu Merchants Association and the Tamilnadu Government
Employees Association participated in the rally, indicative of the
growing discontent over Coca-Cola's operations in India.
The Supreme Court of India will be hearing three cases relating to
Coca-Cola's crimes in India, and calls for shutting down Coca-Cola
bottling plants are getting stronger across India, with literally
tens of thousands of community members involved in the campaign to
hold the company accountable. The state government of Kerala has also
moved the Supreme Court of India to challenge Coca-Cola's crimes in
"This is a formidable proactive move by the people of Gangaikondan
to oppose the Coca-Cola factory. Communities across India have learnt
the lesson that Coca-Cola causes water scarcity and pollution. Business
as usual will be increasingly hard for the Coca-Cola company in India,"
said Amit Srivastava of the India Resource Center, an international
campaigning organization working closely with local campaigns in India.
Coca-Cola's sales have dropped 14% in the last quarter (April-June)
in India, and the company is undergoing major reorganization in the
country, including a change in the top leadership, in an effort to
contain the growing opposition.
For more information, including India Resource Center's investigation,
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