Community Rallies to Shut Down Coca-Cola in India
Demand Closure of Bottling Plant Before Summer to Ease Water
For Immediate Release
February 3, 2006
San Francisco (February 3, 2006): Over 500 hundred community members
and their supporter marched to the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Mehdiganj,
near the holy city of Varanasi, in northern India today.
The protesters are demanding that the Coca-Cola bottling plant be
shut down immediately because it is causing severe water shortages
- by extracting too much water and polluting the groundwater in the
"People are already experiencing water scarcity, and we are concerned
that Coca-Cola's continued use of large amounts of water, particularly
in the coming summer months, will make the water crisis in the area
even worse," said Nandlal Master of Lok Samiti, the main organizing
group of the rally. "We are demanding that the state government immediately
shut down the plant."
The local village council (panchayat) in Mehdiganj has already cancelled
the license for the Coca-Cola bottling plant but state authorities
have yet to take action.
The march was stopped by police about 300 meters from the bottling
plant, and Medha Patkar, coordinator of the National Alliance of People's
Movements (NAPM), was injured by the police in their efforts to stop
the march. The injury was not serious.
"Coca-Cola's operations in India seriously threaten people's access
to water which is a life support resource," said Medha Patkar. "We
cannot allow corporate control of our life support resources, and
we need to assert people's sovereignty over water. If left unchallenged,
next will be the sale and purchase of rivers."
The protester's demands include the dropping of all criminal charges
against community members, an inquiry into the illegal manner in which
the Coca-Cola plant has occupied land belonging to the community as
well as compensation for farmers who have been adversely affected
by Coca-Cola's practices.
Coca-Cola's practices are causing dramatic impacts on the community.
Farmers, for whom the quantity and quality of water is key to successful
farming, have been particularly hit hard, losing significant crop
The campaign to shut down Coca-Cola's plant enjoys widespread support
in the area and the support for the campaign is growing, including
an endorsement from Mr. V.P. Singh, former Prime Minister of India.
Nandlal Master of Lok Samiti announced the community's plans to escalate
the campaign by starting an indefinite vigil in front of the Coca-Cola
bottling plant from March 23to force the plant to shut down.
Coca-Cola has become the target of various communities across India
who are experiencing severe problems with the quantity and quality
of water as a result of the company's operations.
One of Coca-Cola's largest plants in India, in Plachimada in south
India, has remained shut down since Match 2004 because of local community
The company is also the target of an international campaign to meet
the demands of the communities in India. Most recently, on December
31, 2005, the University of Michigan suspended Coca-Cola's contracts
with the university because the company would not agree to an independent
assessment of its operations.
For more information, visit www.IndiaResource.org
Medha Patkar at Mehdiganj Rally Photo: Lok Samiti
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