Coca-Cola Not Shutting Plachimada Plant, Despite Reports

For Immediate Release
March 29, 2005

Amit Srivastava, India Resource Center
Email: amit(AT)IndiaResource.org Tel: 415 336 7584

San Francisco (March 29, 2005): Recent media reports in the Indian media suggesting that Coca-Cola has offered to close its plant in Plachimada are false.

"As of today, we are not aware of any such offer made by Coca-Cola," said Amit Srivastava of the India Resource Center.

"In fact, the Coca-Cola company is not in a position to decide whether to open or shut down its bottling plant in Plachimada," continued Srivastava. "That is left to the community and the village council, who have both decided, and now the court."

The Coca-Cola bottling plant in Plachimada, one of the largest in India, has remained shut down since March 9, 2004. Initially, the state government of Kerala ordered the plant to cease operations until June 15, 2004 to ease the drought conditions. The Perumatty village council (panchayat) has since refused to renew Coca-Cola's license to operate, citing the Coca-Cola company for over-exploitation of groundwater and pollution of the water and soil. As a result, the factory has been unable to start production for over a year now. Coca-Cola has appealed the panchayat's actions, and the High Court of Kerala will be hearing the case again on March 30, 2005. The shut down of the plant has made international news and is often characterized as a David vs Goliath story.

The Kerala High Court, in a landmark ruling in December 2003, also found Coca-Cola's indiscriminate use of the groudwater in Plachimada to be illegal, ordering it to seek alternative sources of water for its production, and ruling that the Coca-Cola plant could only extract as much water as a farmer with 34 acres of land would.

In an anti-democratic move, Coca-Cola is challenging the power of the local village council, an elected body at the most local level of governance, and a body championed by Mahatma Gandhi as the basic unit of democracy in India. Coca-Cola is arguing that the village council has no jurisdiction over its operations.

The Coca-Cola company and its practices have faced growing opposition from communities across India for creating water shortages and pollution. The company has faced a series of defeats, including actions by the courts and various state agencies, all across India. Coca-Cola is banned from sale in the Parliament of India.

The month of April 2005 has been designated as the month of action against Coca-Cola internationally, and a speaking tour in the US will begin on April 4 and end at Coca-Cola's shareholders meeting in Wilmington on April 19. More actions are planned throughout the month, including a week of action by the largest trade union in the UK, Unison, against Coca-Cola.

Visit India Resource Center for the latest developments on the campaign against Coca-Cola in India and internationally.


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