State Government Challenges Coca-Cola's Bottling Operation in India
Declares Water Resources "Over-Extracted", Additional Clearances
For Immediate Release
November 28, 2005
R. Ajayan, Plachimada Solidarity Committee (India) T: +91 98471 42513
Amit Srivastava, India Resource Center E: info@IndiaResource.org T:
+44 7731 865 591 (UK) +1 415 336 7584 (US)
London (November 28, 2005): In a move that could shut down one of
Coca-Cola's largest bottling plant in India permanently, the Kerala
state government has notified the area where one of Coca-Cola's largest
bottling plants is located, in Plachimada in Perumatty panchayat in
Having declared the area as "over-exploited" in its water resources,
the state government notified the area under the Kerala Groundwater
Control and Regulation Act- to regulate the use of groundwater due
As a result of the notification, Coca-Cola's bottling plant in Plachimada,
which has remained shut down since March 2004 due to community pressure,
will now have to seek additional clearances in order to draw groundwater.
The company must register its wells and borewells within four months
to the newly formed Ground Water Regulatory Authority (GWRA). The
GWRA will consider a variety of factors, including the impacts on
the quantity and quality on the already scarce groundwater resource,
before allowing the company to use the groundwater.
It seems unlikely that the Coca-Cola company will be granted permission
to use groundwater as a result of water scarcity in the area.
In a statement released today, the Anti-Coca-Cola Struggle Committee
and the Plachimada Solidarity Committee welcomed the move, stating,
"It took the valiant sustained struggles of the people of Plachimada
against the MNC giant Coca Cola and the widespread support for their
just struggles within the state, across the country and globally that
forced the government of Kerala to even activate this important law
- a law passed to protect and preserve ground water to serve the common
interests and basic needs of all the people of the state."
The groups are also demanding that the state government initiate criminal
culpability and liability cases against the Coca-Cola company for
"destruction of lives, livelihood, health and environment of the people
in Plachimada and around the factory at Plachimada."
In another major setback for the Coca-Cola company, the Kerala High
Court on November 17 rejected a petition by the company which challenged
the actions of the Perumatty panchayat - the local village council.
The panchayat had initially rejected Coca-Cola's license to operate
because of hardships to the community, and subsequently offered Coca-
Cola a conditional, three month license which the company refused.
The company claimed that the village council erred in its actions,
and that the company had a two year license as a result.
"These are major validations of the struggle by the people of Plachimada.
Coca-Cola is losing the battle on substantive issues, and has now
resorted to challenging the authorities and the people on technical
issues, which it is also losing. Such a strategy is not sustainable,"
said C.R. Bijoy of the People's Union for Civil Liberties.
The campaign to hold Coca-Cola accountable for its crimes in India
is receiving significant international support, with students and
communities in the US, UK and internationally refusing to do business
with the Coca-Cola company until it meets the demands of the communities
"The Coca-Cola company should cease all efforts to re-open its plant
in Plachimada, where it is clearly not welcome. The company must meet
the demands of the communities in India or else the campaign to hold
it accountable will continue to gain momentum," said Amit Srivastava
of the international campaigning organization, India Resource Center.
Protests against Coca-Cola are widespread in India. A major rally
is planned against another Coca-Cola bottling plant in India - in
Mehdiganj in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh - on November 30
to protest water scarcity and pollution as a result of Coca-Cola's
operations in the area.
For more information, visit www.IndiaResource.org
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