"Water Rights" Tour Begins in India
Coca-Cola, Pepsi Bottling Plants Targeted
For Immediate Release
September 11, 2006
Nandlal Master, Lok Samiti, India T: +91 94153 00520
Amit Srivastava, India Resource Center, US T: + 1 415 336 7584 E:
Varanasi, India: A 3-week long tour to assert community rights over
water began yesterday in Mehdiganj, in the north Indian state of Uttar
The tour was flagged off at Mehdiganj, the site of one of Coca-Cola's
bottling plants in India which has been accused of creating severe
water shortages and pollution.
The tour will go through most of the state of Uttar Pradesh, stopping
at both Coca-Cola and Pepsico plants in the state to bring attention
to the water shortages and pollution being caused by the companies.
The tour will also stop in Kala Dera in Rajasthan, the site of another
community campaign accusing the Coca-Cola bottling plant of creating
water shortages. The tour will end in Delhi on October 3, and will
include a protest in front of Coca-Cola's Indian headquarters in Gurgaon,
"The yatra (tour) is a campaign signaling the beginning of the end
of Coca-Cola and Pepsico in India," said Nandlal Master of Lok Samiti,
one of the main organizers of the tour who have also organized a series
of protests against Coca-Cola's bottling plant in Mehdiganj.
"Privatization of water, where the cola companies get large amounts
of groundwater practically for free, is not working for us. It leaves
us without water, and is destroying the lives and livelihoods of thousands
of farmers in India. Communities must have primary rights over water,"
said Nandlal Master.
A recent study of the water conditions in eight villages within a
3 kilometer radius of the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Mehdiganj found
that the number of wells that had dried up increased seven-fold since
Coca-Cola commenced operations in the area, and on an average, the
water levels in the wells in the area had dropped 18 feet.
Both Coca-Cola and Pepsi have been under fire in India recently after
a study showed that their products contained excessively high levels
of pesticides. Seven Indian states have imposed partial bans on the
sale of Coca-Cola and Pepsi products, and the state of Kerala in south
India has also shut down both the companies' plants.
Dr. Sandeep Pandey of the National Alliance of People's Movements,
also one of the primary organizers of the march, said that the "focal
point of yatra is to highlight the miseries of farmers and communities
as a result of the extraction of enormous ground water by companies
for commercial use."
Both organizations have called for a boycott of Coca-Cola and Pepsi
"The government of India must immediately adopt stringent measures
to protect the natural resources of the country from rampant exploitation,"
said Amit Srivastava of the India Resource Center, an international
campaigning organization. "Coca-Cola and Pepsico's involvement in
India cannot be called development. Their activities deprive the very
fabric of India - its farmers - of one of its most essential resources,
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