Community Protests Coca-Cola Plant in India

Community Files Police Report Accusing Coca-Cola of Water Theft and Pollution

For Immediate Release
October 25, 2007

Baliram Ram, Coca-Cola Bhagao, Krishi Bachao Sangharsh Samiti +91 94507 79325 (Hindi)
Nandlal Master, Lok Samiti +91 94153 00520 (Hindi)
Amit Srivastava, India Resource Center +91 98103 46161 E: info@IndiaResource.org

Ballia, Uttar Pradesh, India (October 25, 2007): Over 600 people marched and rallied against the Coca-Cola bottling plant in the village of Sinhachawar in Ballia district in India yesterday, demanding that the plant be shut down permanently.

March to Coca-Cola Plant in Sinhachawar
March to Coca-Cola Plant in Sinhachawar
The community has accused the bottling plant of pollution and also illegally occupying land held by the village assembly.

A visit by community members to the factory premises in May 2007 found the bottling plant indiscriminately dumping its hazardous waste inside and outside the factory premises.

In 2003, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) of India assessed the sludge at eight Coca-Cola bottling plants, and found them all to contain excessive levels of lead, cadmium or chromium. As a result, the CPCB ordered the Coca-Cola company in India to treat its waste at all its bottling plants as industrial hazardous waste, and deal with it accordingly.

Four years later, the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Sinhachawar has failed to follow the orders. In particular, the dumping of such hazardous waste violates the Hazardous Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 1989 from the Ministry of Environment and Forests of India.

"We are demanding that the Coca-Cola bottling plant cease its operations permanently because they are destroying our land and water, the very source of our livelihoods," said Mr. Baliram Ram of the Coca-Cola Bhagao, Krishi Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, the main organizer of the protest.

The Coca-Cola bottling plant in Sinhachawar has also built its boundary walls encompassing some land that is owned by the village assembly. In December 2005, villagers noticed that the Coca-Cola bottling plant had blocked access to a public road that went through the bottling plant. The villagers forcibly removed the gates placed by the bottling plant on either side of the road. The community is alleging that the Coca-Cola bottling plant illegally occupies another 1.5 acres of village assembly land.

The community is also concerned about water shortages in the area as a result of the extraction of water by the Coca-Cola bottling plant. The area is already experiencing water shortages, and the villagers point to other communities in India around Coca-Cola bottling plants where the water crises have been severely exacerbated as a result of Coca-Cola's operations

Rally at Coca-Cola Plant in Sinhachawar
Rally at Coca-Cola Plant in Sinhachawar
The bottling plant in Sinhachawar is a Coca-Cola franchisee owned unit operated by the Brindavan Bottlers Limited, which is owned by India's largest bottler of Coca-Cola, the Ladhani Group of Companies. The bottling plant is in the process of being bought by the Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Private Ltd, the subsidiary of the Coca-Cola company.

The protest at the Coca-Cola bottling plant came a day after another demonstration at the District Magistrate's office in Balia on October 23 where community members presented their demands to the District Magistrate.

The bottling plant has come under increased scrutiny after the community visit to the plant which confirmed that Coca-Cola was carelessly and illegally dumping its waste around the factory premises and into the surrounding fields.

The head of the village council, Ms. Chinta Devi, has led the campaign to permanently shut down the plant. Last month, the union of village council heads in the district passed a resolution against the Coca-Cola bottling plant, insisting that it be shut down.

The protest at the Coca-Cola bottling plant ended after community members lodged a police report accusing the plant of pollution, illegal land occupation and theft of water.

The Coca-Cola company's operations in India have been challenged by various communities across India who are experiencing severe water shortages as well as polluted water and land as a result of the company's practices. The Coca-Cola bottling plant in Plachimada, one of the company's largest in India, has been shut down since March 2004.

Rally at Coca-Cola Plant in Sinhachawar
Rally at Coca-Cola Plant in Sinhachawar
The local campaigns to challenge Coca-Cola in India have found tremendous support internationally, and particularly among college and university students in the US, UK and Canada. Over twenty five colleges and universities have taken actions against the Coca-Cola company.

The full report of the May visit to the Coca-Cola bottling plant with images can be found at http://www.indiaresource.org/campaigns/coke/2007/cokebaliafact.html, in Hindi at http://www.indiaresource.org/campaigns/coke/2007/baliahindireport.pdf

For more information, visit www.IndiaResource.org


FAIR USE NOTICE. This document contains copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. India Resource Center is making this article available in our efforts to advance the understanding of corporate accountability, human rights, labor rights, social and environmental justice issues. We believe that this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use,' you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.




Home | About | How to Use this Site | Sitemap | Privacy Policy

India Resource Center (IRC) is a project of Global Resistance -- "Building Global Links for Justice"
URL: http://www.IndiaResource.org Email:IndiaResource (AT) igc.org