Coke Pays for Pollution
Washington: The controversy over Coca-Cola's environmental and labour
practices in India and Colombia has led to the suspension of its $1.4
million contract with the University of Michigan, one of the bigger
universities in the US with over 40,000 students on the rolls.
The suspension follows a year-long campaign by student and environmental
groups, who have charged the soft drink giant with depleting the water
table in India and discharging harmful sludge containing cadmium.
In Colombia, it has been accused of unfair labour practices.
Coke, while denying all the allegations, had broadly agreed for a
third party audit last June, but failed to carry out the requisite
actions to the satisfaction of the university authorities by the target
date of December 31. "A protocol for reviewing the environmental concerns
in India has not yet been developed," senior university officials
said. In respect of Colombia, the company reportedly did not agree
to the protocol that was recommended.
Amit Shrivastava of the India Resource Centre (IRC), an international
campaign group that worked closed with Michigan students, said the
suspension of the contract "will send a strong message to Coca-Cola
that it must clean up its act".
Coca-Cola spokesperson Kari Bjorhus commented: "We are working with
the university to address concerns.”
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