Major Protest to Shut Down Coca-Cola and Pepsi in India

For Immediate Release
August 22, 2006

Sawai Singh, Jan Sangharsh Samiti (Hindi only) +91 141 2552878, +91 94132 00044 (India)
Amit Srivastava, India Resource Center +1 415 336 7584 (US) E: info@IndiaResource.org

Jaipur, India: Over a thousand people marched and rallied in the north Indian state of Rajasthan to demand the shut down of Coca-Cola and Pepsico bottling plants in the state.

Accusing the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Kala Dera of creating severe water shortages affecting over fifty villages and producing harmful products, protesters marched towards the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Kala Dera, about 40 kilometers from Jaipur.

Water is a scarce and valuable resource in the state of Rajasthan, often referred to as the "desert state".

At the rally, protesters burnt effigies of Coca-Cola as well as Shah Rukh Khan, a popular Bollywood actor who also serves as the spokesperson for Pepsico in India.

Coca-Cola and Pepsico are under increasing fire in India after reports that their products in India contained excessively high levels of pesticides, including lindane, malathion and heptachlor. The study by the Delhi based Centre for Science and Environment found that pesticide levels in India, on an average, exceeded European Union limits by 24 times.

At least seven Indian states have imposed bans on the soft drinks, and the southern state of Kerala has banned the sale and production of both Coca-Cola and Pepsi in the state.

The state of Karnataka has initiated a lawsuit against Coca-Cola after its own tests confirmed the high levels of pesticides.

"It is well known that consumers in the US and UK are turning away from these drinks because they are detrimental to our health. With the findings that Coca-Cola and Pepsi products in India contain poisons, we should enforce a complete ban of these products globally," said Sawai Singh of the Jan Sangharsh Samiti one of the main organizers of the march.

Falling groundwater tables after Coca-Cola began operations has been the primary reason for the involvement of farmers and communities in the campaign against Coca-Cola. A study by the Central Ground Water Board found that water tables had dropped 10 meters in just five years since Coca-Cola began its bottling operations in Kala Dera in 2000.

This is the latest in a series of demonstrations against the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Kala Dera. In December 2005, over 1,500 people marched to demand the plant's shutdown, and in June 2004, over 2,000 people protested the plant.

"As India comes up with regulations to define the levels of allowable contaminants in soft drinks, it must also examine and strengthen the weak laws in India that allow large corporations to exploit water resources while leaving the farmers and the communities without any water," said Amit Srivastava of the India Resource Center, an international campaigning organization.

For more information, visit www.IndiaResource.org


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