Another Major Rally Against Coca-Cola in India

Communities in Rajasthan Demand Shut Down of Bottling Plant

For Immediate Release
December 12, 2005

Sawai Singh, Jan Sangharsh Samiti (Hindi only) +91 141 2552878 (India)
Amit Srivastava, India Resource Center +1 415 336 7584 (US) E: info@IndiaResource.org

San Francisco (December 12, 2005): Over 1,500 villagers marched on Sunday to the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Kala Dera, in Rajasthan in north India, demanding that the plant shut down immediately.

The villagers started marching towards the bottling plant with intentions to shut down the factory by locking it down, and were met by a strong police presence.

About 200 people were arrested and later released.

Communities living around Coca-Cola's bottling plant in Kala Dera have been experiencing severe water shortages as a result of Coca-Cola's operations, as well as polluted groundwater and soil. Over 50 villages around Coca-Cola's bottling plant in Kala Dera are being affected as a result of Coca-Cola's operations.

Loss of water and polluted water and soil have continued to destroy agricultural systems in the area, leading to loss of livelihoods for thousands of people.

The protest in Rajasthan comes less than two weeks after another major protest, involving close to a thousand people, demanding the closure of Coca-Cola's bottling plant in Mehdiganj in Uttar Pradesh.

"Coca-Cola is looting our natural resources, resources that belong to the public," said Sawai Singh of the Jan Sangharsh Samiti, the organizer of the march and also one of those arrested. "Water is a basic need for people, and trading in water is not acceptable because it deprives people of a basic need," he continued.

The protest included some veterans of Indian social movements, including Medha Patkar of the National Alliance of People's Movements and Rajendra Singh, a leading water conservation expert internationally, both of whom were also arrested. Also present were ten freedom fighters- veterans of the struggle for Indian independence from British colonial rule.

Community leaders in Rajasthan have vowed to increase the pressure on the Coca-Cola company until it shuts down the bottling plant. "We will not rest until we have shut down the bottling plant," emphasized Mr. Sawai Singh.

The Coca-Cola company's bottling operations are in crisis in India, with large and growing community campaigns targeting the company all across India for causing water depletion and pollution. One of Coca-Cola's largest bottling plants in India, in Plachimada in south India, has remained shut down for 20 months because of community pressure. In the southern state of Tamil Nadu, a formidable campaign has emerged to challenge a proposed bottling plant that will produce Coca-Cola products.

The campaigns in India are also receiving tremendous support internationally, with colleges and universities in the United States and United Kingdom campaigning to revoke Coca-Cola's contracts until they meet the demands of the communities.

"Coca-Cola in India is a perfect example of what goes wrong when institutions like the World Trade Organization give more power to corporations," said Amit Srivastava of the India Resource Center, an international campaigning organization. "The campaign to hold Coca-Cola accountable is significant because it asserts the rights of communities over natural resources- rights that are increasingly under threat from the WTO."

For more information, visit www.IndiaResource.org


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