Coke Under Attack from Indian Activist in US
NEW DELHI: It is the second recent example of a US-based Indian causing
trouble for an MNC giant. After Seattle-based attorney Harish Bharti
made McDonald's Corp cough up $10 million as compensation for lacing
its french fries with beef tallow, now California-based Indian activist
Amit Srivastava has mobilised a movement against Coca-Cola India in
The basis of his allegations include Coke lacing its soft drinks with
pesticide residue, giving away toxic sludge to farmers as fertiliser,
and depleting ground water in India. Srivastava's public protests
have already started causing damage to Coca-Cola. About six colleges
in US have decided either to ban the beverage at their campuses or
not to renew contracts with Coke.
The website Srivastava is involved with, www.indiaresource.org, has
had over 1,400 people demanding the closure of Coke's Kerala plant.
Conducting tours of college campuses in US and addressing students
on the 'story of Coca-Cola in India', Srivastava has said, "It is
destroying lives, it is destroying livelihoods and it is destroying
communities all across India." When contacted, a Coca-Cola India spokesperson
denied all allegations.
"All our plants meet global environment standards," he said. He added
that "Srivastava is unwilling to either meet Coke India officials
or tour our plants, despite several personal invitations." Coca-Cola's
troubles in India do not seem to be diminishing.
Both Coke and rival Pepsi now face a Rajasthan High Court order directing
them to declare levels of pesticide residue on labels of soft drinks
bottles. Industry experts say labelling of pesticide content on soft
drink bottles will severely dent sales.
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