Election Results Sound Defeat for Coca-Cola Company

Village Council Opposed to Coca-Cola Resoundingly Re-Elected in India

For Immediate Release
September 30, 2005

R. Ajayan, Plachimada Solidarity Committee (India) Tel: +91 98471 42513
Amit Srivastava, India Resource Center (US) E: info@IndiaResource.org T: +1 415 336 7584

San Francisco: Coca-Cola has lost in India yet again, this time at the polls. In a resounding victory for the campaign to hold Coca-Cola accountable, constituents voted on September 26 to keep the incumbent panchayat (village council) leadership in Perumatty panchayat in Kerala in southern India.

The election results confirm that the majority of the local population is opposed to the Coca-Cola bottling plant.

One of Coca-Cola's largest bottling plants is located in Plachimada, in the Perumatty panchayat, and the village council had ordered it shut down, accusing the Coca-Cola company of causing severe water shortages and pollution in the area. The bottling plant has remained closed for 18 months now.

Perumatty panchayat president Mr. A. Krishnan, representing Janata Dal (Secular), was re-elected, and the Left Democratic Front (LDF), of which Mr. Krishnan's party, Janata Dal (Secular), is a constituent, won 15 of the 17 wards in the panchayat.

The Anti-Coca-Cola Struggle Committee - the community based group leading the campaign against Coca-Cola - publicly supported the Left Democratic Front.

There were numerous allegations that agents of the Coca-Cola company were offering monies to the public to buy their vote-to vote against the LDF candidates.

Coca-Cola was a major issue on the campaign trail, and Mr. K. Krishnankutty, secretary general of the Janata Dal (Secular) said, "the fight in Perumatty is for protecting the rights of people over natural resources," referring specifically to Coca-Cola's abuse of water resources.

"This is a people's verdict against the Coca-Cola company," said R. Ajayan, convener of the Plachimada Solidarity Committee, a statewide network of groups supporting the local campaign. "Coca-Cola's claims that it has the support of the local community has been proved to be a lie, and all their promises of jobs and building schools has not made an impact on people's lives," continued Ajayan.

The Coca-Cola company is in trouble in India. Just two weeks ago, the state government of Kerala filed an appeal with the Supreme Court of India, challenging the Coca-Cola company's right to extract water. And on August 19, 2005, the Kerala Pollution Control Board ordered the bottling plant shut down due to high levels of pollution in the area.

The panchayat elections in Perumatty panchayat were closely watched by many and may also have contributed to statewide election results. "The almost sweeping two-thirds win for the Left Democratic Front in the state is a sure indicator of the simmering discontent of people to the outright handover of natural resources to the corporate sector" said C.R. Bijoy of People's Union for Civil Liberties.

"The people of Plachimada have said loud and clear that the Coca-Cola company is not welcome their community. The state government of Kerala has also made it clear that they stand behind the community. We are not sure what sign the company is waiting for before it packs its bags and leaves," said Amit Srivastava of the India Resource Center, an international campaigning organization.

For more information, visit www.IndiaResource.org


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