Water Levels Continue Dropping Sharply

Coca-Cola Extracts Groundwater Even as Farmers and Community Left Without Water

For Immediate Release
September 21, 2011

San Francisco (September 21, 2011): The Coca-Cola company continues to operate with arrogance and impunity in India – continuing bottling operations in areas where the community is unable to meet its basic water needs.

In the latest government data obtained by the India Resource Center, groundwater levels in Kala Dera have continued spiraling downwards, falling another 3.6 meters (11.8 feet) in just one year, between November 2009 and November 2010.

Coca-Cola’s bottling operations have had a spectacular impact on the groundwater resources in the area.

In the 10 years before Coca-Cola started operations in Kala Dera (1990-2000), groundwater levels fell just 3.94 meters (12.9 feet).

In the 10 years since Coca-Cola started operations (2000-2010), groundwater levels have plummeted 25.35 meters (83.2 feet)!

Coca-Cola started operations in Kala Dera in 2000, even though the area’s groundwater reserves were declared as “over exploited” by the government in 1998.

“Coca-Cola should never have built their factory in Kala Dera in the first place,” said Mahesh Yogi of the Kala Dera Sangharsh Samiti, a local group spearheading the efforts against Coca-Cola. “The right thing for Coca-Cola to do now is to shut down the plant, especially since farmers do not have enough water because Coca-Cola is taking too much water.”

In 2008, a study financed by Coca-Cola on the Kala Dera operations found that the bottling plant was not sustainable and recommended that Coca-Cola shut down or relocate the factory in Kala Dera because continued operations "would continue to be one of the contributors to a worsening water situation and a source of stress to the communities around."

Coca-Cola has ignored the recommendations of the study, and not surprisingly, groundwater levels have continued plummeting in Kala Dera.

Instead, the Coca-Cola company has embarked on a highly ambitious public relations and corporate social responsibility campaign, claiming that they have become “water neutral” in India, even though their own concept paper on water neutrality acknowledges that it is impossible to do so.

The company has also made fantastical claims that it recharges about 1.3 billion liters of groundwater annually in Kala Dera – a claim that has been debunked by water experts in the area because Kala Dera’s rainfall patterns would make it impossible to recharge so much water.

Various visits by community members, journalists as well as the study team that Coca-Cola financed have found many of Coca-Cola’s water conservation projects to be in dilapidated conditions.

“Coca-Cola could never have gotten away with such atrocious disregard for the community if this bottling plant were operating in the US or European Union. To take water away from people so that it can profit by selling sugar water is criminal,” said Amit Srivastava of the India Resource Center, an international campaigning group.

Coca-Cola’s operations are also being challenged in other parts of India. In Mehdiganj, groundwater levels actually rose 8.95 meters – only to be nullified after Coca-Cola started operations.

For more information, visit www.IndiaResource.org

Amit Srivastava, India Resource Center, US +1 415 336 7584 (US)
Mahesh Yogi, Kala Dera Jan Sangharsh Samiti, India +91 98295 99140


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