Swarthmore College Bans Coca-Cola

Groups Caution Against Bias in Investigation

For Immediate Release
November 30, 2006

Amit Srivastava, India Resource Center, +1 415 336 7584
R. Ajayan, Plachimada Solidarity Committee +91 98471 42513

San Francisco: US based Swarthmore College has announced that it will remove all Coca-Cola products from campus as a result of the international campaign to hold Coca-Cola accountable for its crimes in India and Colombia.

The Coca-Cola company's operations in India have led to severe water shortages for thousands of people living in the vicinity of its bottling plants, and government studies have confirmed dumping of toxic waste around its plants. One of Coca-Cola's largest bottling plants in India has been shut down since March 2004 because of community opposition.

Students in the US, UK and Canada are playing a key role in applying pressure on the Coca-Cola company for its abuses in India and Colombia.

Swarthmore College joins an increasing number of colleges and universities that have refused to do business with the Coca-Cola company until it cleans up its act. DePaul University, Rutgers University, New York University, Sussex University and the University of Michigan have also taken actions to remove Coca-Cola from their campuses.

"We are gratified with the actions of students at Swarthmore College. We are confident that facts speak for themselves, and we look forward to working with students around the world to get the message to Coca-Cola loud and clear," said R. Ajayan of the Plachimada Solidarity Committee in India.

Swarthmore College has also called on the company to conduct an independent investigation into allegations of water abuses in India, as well as anti-union violence in Colombia.

"We welcome an independent investigation into the issues in India, and in fact, we expect a rigorous investigation by prestigious institutions such as Swarthmore College," said Amit Srivastava of the India Resource Center, an international campaigning organization.

At the University of Michigan, where the Coca-Cola company has been placed on probation until December 31, 2006, the company has itself chosen a group in India, the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) to "develop a transparent and impartial independent third party assessment of water resource management practices at Coca-Cola company facilities in India."

Indian communities have rejected the choice of TERI to conduct the assessment because of the close relationship between the two organizations. Coca-Cola is an active funder of TERI's activities, and TERI has also named Coca-Cola as the most responsible companies in India in a survey. The two organizations have collaborated extensively in the past, and TERI has also organized Earth Day with the "support of Coca-Cola."

"Swarthmore College must insist that the investigation into the issues in India is indeed third party and independent for it to withstand scrutiny. The choice of TERI by Coca-Cola in the past to investigate its activities makes a mockery of generally understood principles of fairness, and the Swarthmore College must insist on a separate entity," said Amit Srivastava.

The Swarthmore College press release can be found at http://www.swarthmore.edu/x8347.xml

The objections to the choice of TERI by Coca-Cola to develop the investigation is at http://www.indiaresource.org/news/2006/1052.html

For more information, visit www.IndiaResource.org


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