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Coca-Cola Continues Unethical and Dishonest Practices in India

Company Must Follow Recommendations of Company Funded Study: Shut Down Kala Dera Bottling Plant
By Amit Srivastava India Resource Center September 12, 2008

San Francisco: It is said that those who don't learn from the mistakes of the past are destined to repeat them. It seems that the Coca-Cola has not learnt any lessons from Plachimada - a village in the state of Kerala in India where the community-led campaign has shut down its plant since March 2004. The manner is which the Coca-Cola company has decided to deal with another community-led campaign in India - in the village of Kala Dera in the state of Rajasthan - is indicative of the arrogance and impunity of the company that has landed it in trouble before. And Coca-Cola in India is in for a rude awakening, again.

Kala Dera - Thirsting from Coca-Cola


Kala Dera is a large village outside the city of Jaipur where agriculture is the primary source of livelihood. Coca-Cola started its bottling operations in Kala Dera in 2000, and within a year, the community started to notice a rapid decline in groundwater levels. For farmers, loss of groundwater translated directly into loss of income. For women, it meant having to walk an additional 5 to 6 kilometers just to fetch water to meet the basic daily needs of the family. For many children in Kala Dera, it meant leaving schools to provide a much needed helping hand doing household chores since the women had additional burdens. The community in Kala Dera organized itself to challenge the Coca-Cola company for the worsening water conditions through extraction and pollution - and demanded the closure of the Coca-Cola bottling plant. The company, in usual fashion, denied any wrongdoing, blaming "outsiders" for the Unusable Well in Kala Dera Showing Depleted Water Level increasing local community opposition.

Forced Assessment Validates Community Concerns


The community of Kala Dera, as well as the villages of Plachimada and Mehdiganj in India that are opposing Coca-Cola bottling plants, have enjoyed significant international support. And most notable in lending support have been college and university students across the globe, and in particular, the US, UK and Canada - some of Coca-Cola's larger markets.

One of the successful campaigns was at the prestigious University of Michigan in the US, which, after a sustained student-led campaign in which the India Resource Center represented the India issues, placed the Coca-Cola company on probationon January 1, 2006. The university also mandated that Coca-Cola agree to an independent assessment of its operations in India if it ever wanted to do business with the university. The assessment, paid for by Coca-Cola and conducted by the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), only looked at six bottling plants in India and was released in January 2008. The assessment was a scathing indictment of Coca-Cola's operations in India. Validating the concerns of the communities campaigning against Coca-Cola, the assessment noted that Coca-Cola approached its operations in India from a "business continuity" perspective that ignored the impacts on the community.

Stop Using Groundwater in Kala Dera


Some of the most disturbing findings in the assessment concerned Coca-Cola's bottling plant in Kala Dera. Confirming that Coca-Cola's bottling plant in Kala Dera operated in an "overexploited" groundwater area and the Coca-Cola's bottling plant had "significant impacts", the assessment noted that "the plant's operations in this area would continue to be one of the contributors to a worsening water situation and a source of stress to the communities around." The assessment made four recommendations with regard to the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Kala Dera, making it clear that Coca-Cola could no longer utilize the overexploited groundwater resource in Kala Dera: Transport water from the nearest aquifer that may not be stressed 2. Store water from low-stress seasons 3. Relocate the plant to a water-surplus area 4. Shut down this facility

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The community in Kala Dera, needless to say, welcomed the recommendations. Unfortunately, they still wait for Coca-Cola to make good on the recommendations made by the assessment that Coca-Cola itself paid for.

Coca-Cola's Response - Unethical and Dishonest


Coca-Cola has had seven months to respond to the findings on Kala Dera. We have not seen much action on the part of Coca-Cola that address the concerns raised in the assessment. In fact, what we have seen much of, is an unethical and dishonest campaign by the Coca-Cola company in an attempt to misrepresent the issues.

Continued Misery in the Face of Certainty


Kala Dera lies in an overexploited groundwater area and access to water has been difficult. Summers are particularly intense in the area, and summers are when water shortages are most acute. Ironically, summer months are also when Coca-Cola reaches its peak production, and it is in the summer months that the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Kala Dera extracts the most water, making already existing water shortages even worse.

At the very least, the Coca-Cola company could have stopped extraction of water this summer, knowing very well the conclusions of the assessment. With facts in hand, the CocaCola company has chosen to continue its operations, knowingly contributing to the misery of thousands of people. On the one hand, Coca-Cola talks a good talk about being a good corporate citizen. Yet, it continues to deplete groundwater causing undue hardships to the community even after it has been told to stop doing so, that too by a study funded by the company itself.

Criminal Negligence or Straight Incompetence?


Prior to locating a bottling plant in Kala Dera, Coca-Cola is supposed to have conducted an Environmental Impact Farmer in Kala Dera Shows Increased Electric Bill from Pumping Water from Depleted Assessment that looks at a Groundwater variety of current conditions and potential impacts if the plant is built and operated. The Coca-Cola company has refused to share the environmental impact assessment it conducted for Kala Dera (or any other plants in India), citing "legal and strategic confidentiality" reasons. However, the Central Ground Water Board of India had already assessed the groundwater in and around Kala Dera to be "overexploited" in 1998. The Coca-Cola company started operations in 2000 - two years after the Indian government agency had already found it to be "overexploited". Did the Coca-Cola company know that the groundwater was overexploited and still built and operated its plant? If the company knew that the Kala Dera groundwater area was overexploited, then starting a water intensive plant borders on criminal negligence, if not criminal negligence itself. And how could the company, which describes itself as a "hydration" company, not know that the Central Ground Water Board of India had already assessed the groundwater as overexploited?

Misrepresenting Facts
In reaching out to the media and the public regarding the scathing TERI assessment, the CocaCola company has misrepresented the facts on several occasions.

Coca-Cola Forced to Agree to Assessment


The Coca-Cola company says that it "voluntarily participated" in the assessment even though the University of Michigan insisted that Coca-Cola agree to an assessment if it wanted to do business with the University of Michigan. The company goes on further to state that "our voluntary participation in the TERI assessment reflects our commitment to transparency and continuous improvement."

If Coca-Cola were committed to transparency, we would suggest they make a good start by sharing the Environmental Impact Assessment that they conducted for Kala Dera and rest of the bottling plants in India. And as for their commitment to "continuous improvement", Coca-Cola should start with implementing one of the four recommendations made by the assessment in regards to the CocaCola bottling plant at Kala Dera.

Coca-Cola Fails to Mention Shut Down Plant Recommendation


In its letter to the University of Michigan after the assessment, the company fails to mention the fourth recommendation made by the assessment - to shut down the bottling plant.

Coca-Cola Does Not Meet its Own Standards


In the same letter, the company states that their plants "on an overall basis are meeting our own more stringent internal standards." One of the shocking findings of the assessment was that of the six plants surveyed, in not one did the plant meet the Coca-Cola company standards for waste management, known as the TCCC standards! What is the point of having Coca-Cola company standards if not a single plant meets them?

Coca-Cola Not in Compliance with Government Regulations


In the same letter, the company states that "its bottlers are in compliance with the standards of relevant India government and regulatory agencies." Again, the assessment found that the treated effluent discharge at none of the six plants surveyed met all the standards of the relevant Indian government and regulatory agencies. The assessment states that the treated effluent discharge at the plants "mostly met the effluent discharge requirements". Mostly, at least from the last definition we checked, does not mean all.

Corporate Social Responsibility - A Scam?


While there have been no genuine initiatives on the part of Coca-Cola to correct its mistakes in Kala Dera, the Coca-Cola company has stepped up its corporate social responsibility spending to announce to the world that it is a green and socially responsible company. Such an effort, however, rings hollow when it comes to India.

Rainwater Harvesting - Dilapidated and a Bluff


With great fanfare, the company continues to announce its rainwater harvesting initiatives in India, even going as far as to announce that the company will become "water neutral" in India by 2009. There are some serious concerns about Coca-Cola's claims on rainwater harvesting.

In Kala Dera, the company has announced that it has recharged five times the amount of water it has used. When asked to back it up with numbers, Coca-Cola does not provide any. In fact, in the letter to the University of Michigan, Coca-Cola states that they Coca-Cola Sign - "Kala Dera - A Dream" Next to Dilapidated Rainwater Recharge Shafts "will install measuring devices that will verify the amount of water recharged." If they do not have measuring devices installed to verify the amount of water recharged, how can they make a claim of recharging five times the water that they have extracted? People across Rajasthan are well versed in rainwater harvesting, and many communities have been harvesting rainwater long before Coca-Cola started. In fact, the Coca-Cola company started rainwater harvesting initiatives in India as a response to the growing campaigns against its water mismanagement. The community in Kala Dera has long maintained that Coca-Cola's rainwater harvesting structures do not work. Even the TERI assessment, which looked at Coca-Cola's CSR initiatives in Kala Dera, notes that "all the recharge shafts that were randomly visited were found to be in dilapidated conditions." "Coca-Cola is bluffing people with its rainwater harvesting. The problem is that the rainfall in the area is too low, and the amount of rainfalls fluctuates a lot from year to year and within every year. We get a maximum of 30 days of rains every year, and eighty percent of those rains come in just two or three days. Rainwater harvesting is simply not efficient," says Dr. M.S. Rathore, a prominent natural resource expert with the Institute for Development Studies in Jaipur whose work was also referenced by the assessment. Finding dilapidated water recharge shafts, an intermittent, low and unpredictable rainfall pattern, a prominent hydrologist from the area saying it won't work, and Coca-Cola not even having installed water recharge meters yet claiming that they have recharged five times the water they use surely something is out of order. And it is based on their rainwater harvesting initiatives that the Coca-Cola company has announced that they will become water neutral in India by 2009- that they will recharge more water than they use from the groundwater resource. Thanks, but no thanks. Coca-Cola's rainwater harvesting systems are shoddy, their intentions even more suspect, and their claims preposterous. Indeed, if they are so confident about their rainwater harvesting initiatives, let them use just the rainwater to meet all their production needs in India. Coca-Cola must follow the recommendations made by the TERI assessment with regard to Kala Dera and immediately cease tapping any further into the groundwater resource. Until then, the community of Kala Dera and the International Campaign to Hold Coca-Cola Accountable will continue to increase the pressure on the Coca-Cola company.

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-Colas 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 areas 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 CocaCola 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 Deras 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-Colas 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-Colas 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.
Coca-Cola Destroys Indian Villages, Despite Warning by Coca-Cola Study
by Amit Srivastava India Resource Center March 9, 2009

San Francisco: As the summer of 2009 approaches, the village of Kala Dera in north India is bracing itself for yet another season of acute water shortages - thanks largely to Coca-Cola. As it is, accessing water is a daunting task for the villagers of Kala Dera. Kala Dera is located in the desert state of Rajasthan - one of the driest parts of India. Kala Dera has experienced eight years of drought in the last twenty five years! In 1998, the Central Ground Water Board, a government agency, classified the groundwater in Kala Dera as overexploited - declaring that the existing demands on the groundwater were not sustainable. Yet two years later, in the year 2000, Coca-Cola started its bottling plant in Kala Dera. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what happened next. Groundwater levels dropped dramatically, and wells ran dry, farmers did not have enough water to have successful crop yields, and women now had to walk miles longer just to access potable water. Over 60 villages in the vicinity of the Coca-Cola bottling plant felt the dramatic impacts once CocaCola started its operations in Kala Dera. According to government figures, the water tables in Kala Dera fell nearly 10 meters in just the first five years of Coca-Cola's operations! And to add insult to injury, Coca-Cola extracts the vast majority of the water in the summer months - exactly when the water shortages are the most acute for the villagers, even without Coca-Cola. The deteriorating water conditions in Kala Dera could have been prevented quite easily. Coca-Cola should never have located its bottling plant in a drought prone area which had already been declared as overexploited by the government.

It was malfeasance on the part of Coca-Cola to locate its plant in such a water-deficit area, and it was a grave mistake on the part of the Indian government to allow the plant to be located in Kala Dera.

Community Allegations Confirmed by Coca-Cola


The community of Kala Dera has challenged the Coca-Cola bottling plant since 2003, making it very clear that the company's operations had exacerbated the water crisis in the area, and that Coca-Cola must shut down its plant. And the community assertions were confirmed in 2008, and that too by a study funded by the Coca-Cola company itself! In 2006, the International Campaign Against Coca-Cola forced Coca-Cola to agree to an independent assessment of its operations in India. The assessment - paid for by Coca-Cola - was released in January 2008. The assessment was a scathing indictment of Coca-Cola's operations in India. The assessment, conducted by the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), an ally of Coca-Cola, saved its strongest language for Kala Dera. The assessment confirmed that the Kala Dera "plant is located in a water-scarce, drought-prone area" and that the water extraction by Coca-Cola has "significant impacts" on Kala Dera. The assessment made four recommendations to Coca-Cola for the Kala Dera plant - including shutting down the plant - all of which made clear that Coca-Cola must not use the groundwater in Kala Dera anymore. The four recommendations were: Transport water from the nearest aquifer that may not be stressed 2. Store water from low-stress seasons 3. Relocate the plant to a water-surplus area 4. Shut down this facility

1.

Needless to say, the community of Kala Dera welcomed the recommendations. Meeting the recommendations - Coca-Cola not using the groundwater in Kala Dera - would mean significantly less demand on the groundwater, which would ensure that the community needs for water as well as the farmers needs for water were met first. One summer has already passed and Coca-Cola has continued to extract water from the Kala Dera aquifer, completely dismissing the recommendations of the study that it paid for itself! Once again, the village of Kala Dera and surrounding villages have had to do with less water, resulting in extreme hardships to the community, and in particular the women and farmers. Such is the arrogance and impunity of Coca-Cola in India, and it is accompanied by a public relations spin that can be only described as bizarre and offensive. Responding to the media about shutting down the plant in Kala Dera, Coca-Cola India's CEO said, "Walking away is the easiest thing we can do. That's not going to help that community build sustainability." Instead, the Coca-Cola company has decided to support drip water irrigation in the area working with fifteen farmers! Yes, fifteen! Kala Dera itself has a population of 10,000 people, with upwards of 80% engaged in agriculture! It is time, we think, to remind Coca-Cola that they were not invited to build sustainable communities in India, and neither to support farming best practices. This is simply not their expertise, and India will not be served well with SEND a FAX to the CEO of Coca-Cola advising us on sustainable development and agricultural best practices. Coca-Cola - Respect It is time for Coca-Cola to acknowledge the conclusion Communities in India, Shut from the assessment that the Kala Dera "plant's Down Kala Dera Plant! operations in this area would continue to be one of the contributors to a worsening water situation and a source of stress to the communities around." If Coca-Cola is serious about sustainable communities, as it announces to everyone through its "Corporate Social Responsibility" initiatives, then the company would meet one of the recommendations made by the study it funded. Meeting both Coca-Cola's and the community's needs for water in Kala Dera are not sustainable.

TAKE ACTION!

One has to go, and it must be Coca-Cola.

Coca-Cola Destroys Indian Villages, Despite Warning by Coca-Cola Study


by Amit Srivastava India Resource Center March 9, 2009

San Francisco: As the summer of 2009 approaches, the village of Kala Dera in north India is bracing itself for yet another season of acute water shortages - thanks largely to Coca-Cola. As it is, accessing water is a daunting task for the villagers of Kala Dera. Kala Dera is located in the desert state of Rajasthan - one of the driest parts of India. Kala Dera has experienced eight years of drought in the last twenty five years! In 1998, the Central Ground Water Board, a government agency, classified the groundwater in Kala Dera as overexploited - declaring that the existing demands on the groundwater were not sustainable. Yet two years later, in the year 2000, Coca-Cola started its bottling plant in Kala Dera. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what happened next. Groundwater levels dropped dramatically, and wells ran dry, farmers did not have enough water to have successful crop yields, and women now had to walk miles longer just to access potable water. Over 60 villages in the vicinity of the Coca-Cola bottling plant felt the dramatic impacts once CocaCola started its operations in Kala Dera. According to government figures, the water tables in Kala Dera fell nearly 10 meters in just the first five years of Coca-Cola's operations! And to add insult to injury, Coca-Cola extracts the vast majority of the water in the summer months - exactly when the water shortages are the most acute for the villagers, even without Coca-Cola. The deteriorating water conditions in Kala Dera could have been prevented quite easily. Coca-Cola should never have located its bottling plant in a drought prone area which had already been declared as overexploited by the government. It was malfeasance on the part of Coca-Cola to locate its plant in such a water-deficit area, and it was a grave mistake on the part of the Indian government to allow the plant to be located in Kala Dera.

Community Allegations Confirmed by Coca-Cola


The community of Kala Dera has challenged the Coca-Cola bottling plant since 2003, making it very clear that the company's operations had exacerbated the water crisis in the area, and that Coca-Cola must shut down its plant. And the community assertions were confirmed in 2008, and that too by a study funded by the Coca-Cola company itself! In 2006, the International Campaign Against Coca-Cola forced Coca-Cola to agree to an independent assessment of its operations in India. The assessment - paid for by Coca-Cola - was released in January 2008. The assessment was a scathing indictment of Coca-Cola's operations in India. The assessment, conducted by the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), an ally of Coca-Cola, saved its strongest language for Kala Dera. The assessment confirmed that the Kala Dera "plant is located in a water-scarce, drought-prone area" and that the water extraction by Coca-Cola has "significant impacts" on Kala Dera. The assessment made four recommendations to Coca-Cola for the Kala Dera plant - including shutting down the plant - all of which made clear that Coca-Cola must not use the groundwater in Kala Dera anymore. The four recommendations were: Transport water from the nearest aquifer that may not be stressed 2. Store water from low-stress seasons 3. Relocate the plant to a water-surplus area 4. Shut down this facility

1.

Needless to say, the community of Kala Dera welcomed the recommendations. Meeting the recommendations - Coca-Cola not using the groundwater in Kala Dera - would mean significantly less demand on the groundwater, which would ensure that the community needs for water as well as the farmers needs for water were met first. One summer has already passed and Coca-Cola has continued to extract water from the Kala Dera aquifer, completely dismissing the recommendations of the study that it paid for itself! Once again, the village of Kala Dera and surrounding villages have had to do with less water, resulting in extreme hardships to the community, and in particular the women and farmers. Such is the arrogance and impunity of Coca-Cola in India, and it is accompanied by a public relations spin that can be only described as bizarre and offensive. Responding to the media about shutting down the plant in Kala Dera, Coca-Cola India's CEO said, "Walking away is the easiest thing we can do. That's not going to help that community build sustainability." Instead, the Coca-Cola company has decided to support drip water irrigation in the area working with fifteen farmers! Yes, fifteen! Kala Dera itself has a population of 10,000 people, with upwards of 80% engaged in agriculture! It is time, we think, to remind Coca-Cola that they were not invited to build sustainable communities in India, and neither to support farming best practices. This is simply not their expertise, and India will not be served well with SEND a FAX to the CEO of Coca-Cola advising us on sustainable development and agricultural best practices. Coca-Cola - Respect It is time for Coca-Cola to acknowledge the conclusion Communities in India, Shut from the assessment that the Kala Dera "plant's Down Kala Dera Plant! operations in this area would continue to be one of the contributors to a worsening water situation and a source of stress to the communities around." If Coca-Cola is serious about sustainable communities, as it announces to everyone through its "Corporate Social Responsibility" initiatives, then the company would meet one of the recommendations made by the study it funded. Meeting both Coca-Cola's and the community's needs for water in Kala Dera are not sustainable. One has to go, and it must be Coca-Cola.

TAKE ACTION!

[LARGE][LINK=/water-resources/features/teri-faults-coca-cola-for-depleting-community-waterresources.html]TERI faults Coca-Cola for depleting community water resources[/LINK] [/LARGE] [LINK=http://www.facebook.com/sharer/sharer.php?u=http://infochangeindia.org/waterresources/features/teri-faults-coca-cola-for-depleting-community-water-resources.html] [IMG]/templates/ja_teline_iv/images/btn_fb_55px.gif[/IMG] [/LINK] [LINK=#]Share on twitter[/LINK] [LINK=http://www.addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=300&winname=addthis&pub=xa4f803a8066c7ab8f&source=tbx-300&lng=enUS&s=stumbleupon&url=http%3A%2F%2Finfochangeindia.org%2Fwaterresources%2Ffeatures%2Fteri-faults-coca-cola-for-depleting-community-waterresources.html&title=TERI%20faults%20CocaCola%20for%20depleting%20community%20water%20resources%20%7C%20Features%20%7C%20 Water%20resources&ate=AT-xa-4f803a8066c7ab8f/-//52f3e30811985f90/2&frommenu=1&uid=52f3e30831d47875&ct=1&pre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.g oogle.co.in%2F&tt=0&captcha_provider=nucaptcha]Share on stumbleupon[/LINK] [LINK=#]Share on email[/LINK] [LINK=http://www.addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=250&pubid=ra-4f803a8066c7ab8f]More Sharing Services SHARE [/LINK]

[LINK=http://www.addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=300&winname=addthis&pub=xa4f803a8066c7ab8f&source=tbx-300&lng=enUS&s=comments&url=http%3A%2F%2Finfochangeindia.org%2Fwater-resources%2Ffeatures%2Fterifaults-coca-cola-for-depleting-community-water-resources.html&title=TERI%20faults%20CocaCola%20for%20depleting%20community%20water%20resources%20%7C%20Features%20%7C%20 Water%20resources&ate=AT-xa-4f803a8066c7ab8f/-//52f3e30811985f90/3&frommenu=1&uid=52f3e3088e3b6c2d&ct=1&pre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.go ogle.co.in%2F&tt=0&captcha_provider=nucaptcha][IMG]/images/comments-icon.png[/IMG] COMMENTS [/LINK] [LINK=/waterresources/features/teri-faults-coca-cola-for-depleting-community-waterresources/print.html][IMG]/media/system/images/printButton.png[/IMG][/LINK] A recent report by TERI on six Coca-Cola bottling plants in India confirms that the plants have been located in water stressed areas and recommends that the plant in Kala Dera near Jaipur be closed down or relocated

In a strong indictment of soft drinks major Coca-Cola in India, a report by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) has recommended that one of its bottling plants in Kala Dera near Jaipur be either closed down or relocated.

Citing widespread water shortages being experienced by villages around the Coca-Cola bottling plant, the recent report by TERI recommends that the bottling plant should find alternative sources of water, which TERI said could be quite a distance away (and therefore not practical), or relocate or shut down the plant altogether.

The 500-page report titled 'Independent, Third Party Assessment of Coca-Cola Facilities in India', in its specific recommendations on the Kala Dera bottling plant said, "What emerges, however, is that the plant's operations in this area would continue to be one of the contributors to a worsening water situation and a source of stress to the communities around."

The report takes the company to task for locating its bottling plants in already water stressed areas, without much thought about the impact on communities. It validates the concerns of water scarcity and pollution that have been raised by communities in Kala Dera, Mehdiganj etc. It notes that farmers' rights to groundwater for farming must be respected and given precedence over industrial demands for water, particularly in areas that have been declared critical or overexploited in terms of groundwater resources.

The report points out the heavy pollution present in the immediate vicinity of the Coca-Cola bottling plants and calls for additional studies. It shows that the Coca-Cola company has failed to meet its

own standards regarding waste management: "The presence of faecal coliform and several other physico-chemical pollutants in the treated wastewater in almost all the plants calls for an urgent and stringent definition (and implementation) of standards and practices as well as source identification."

In some plants, the report maintains, the company was not meeting the mandatory wastewater discharge standards of the pollution control board.

The report states that the company has hampered the TERI assessment by refusing to share the Environmental Impact Assessment for any of the six plants studied. The report by TERI assessed only six of Coca-Cola's 50 bottling plants in India.

Why these six plants were chosen remains unclear. Community activists would have expected to see the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Plachimada in Kerala, which has been shut down since March 2004, also included because the Coca-Cola company is still trying to re-open the plant. Similarly, a franchisee-operated Coca-Cola bottling plant in Ballia in Uttar Pradesh should have been included in the assessment because community members found industrial waste scattered all across the plant premises less than a year ago.

In a statement, Coca-Cola said, "TERI has observed that our plant in Kala Dera is a very small user of water and therefore whether or not we are present in the area will have little impact on the water levels. Also, we believe that we will be in a better position to serve the communities by being present in Kala Dera than being out of it."

It also said, "As a business that depends on water, and has expertise in water resource management, we are already making a net positive contribution to the water levels through the rainwater harvesting structures that we have installed. We have already created a potential to recharge 15 times more water than we use. Going forward, we are exploring ways we can contribute to more efficient use of water in irrigation."

However TERI's report does not say whether these water management efforts are proving beneficial. Sources said that many of Coca-Cola's rain water harvesting plants were not yet functional.

The report is the outcome of a high-profile student-led campaign in the US, Canada and the UK. Over 20 colleges and universities have removed Coca-Cola products as a result of the international

campaign which aims to hold Coca-Cola accountable for creating water shortages and pollution in the areas where it operates in India.

The University of Michigan had placed the Coca-Cola company, which has the sole contract in the university premises, on probation in 2006 and had asked for an independent assessment of its operations in India.

Reacting to the report, Rameshwar Kudi of the Kala Dera Sangharsh Samiti, the local group that has led the campaign for the plant's closure, said, "We are absolutely thrilled that finally the source of so many of our problems, the Coca-Cola bottling plant, will be shut down."

Another activist, Nandlal Master of Lok Samiti said, "The report confirms what we have been saying all along. The groundwater situation in Mehdiganj is deteriorating, and we are not going to wait till we also become like Kala Dera. The company must stop its operations immediately."

It remains to be seen how the Coca-Cola company will respond to the recommendations by TERI. But activists in India have vowed to ensure that Coca-Cola meets the recommendations for Kala Dera.

Pleased with TERI's assessment, Amit Srivastava of the India Resource Centre, an international campaigning group said, "Enough is enough. Now even Coca-Cola's ally in India has found the company not up to the mark when it comes to protecting water resources and preventing pollution." The India Resource Centre had opposed the choice of TERI as the "independent" assessor of CocaCola because the two groups have worked together in the past: Coca-Cola has funded TERI and coorganised Earth Day. TERI had named Coca-Cola among the most responsible companies in India in 2001.

"The Coca-Cola company is part of the UN Global Compact and as a result, it has agreed to uphold the precautionary principle," Srivastava continued. "The Coca-Cola company must apply the precautionary principle and cease its operations in water stressed areas as well as areas with excessive pollution around Coca-Cola plants in India."

The precautionary principle states that "where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation."

[B]Coca-Cola's response to the TERI report[/B]

"Our engagement with TERI is another important step we are taking to ensure that our water management practices are consistently improving and among the best in the world. The TERI report confirms that we meet Indian regulations and on an overall basis our own TCCC standards, which are often more stringent. It also confirms that we are on the right track with many of the improvements we've made over the last few years. However, it identified some areas where we can do better. As a result, we are strengthening our plant siting requirements, our monitoring capabilities for both rainwater harvesting and wastewater treatment and our guidelines for source protection and operating in water scarce areas. We also are expanding our efforts to work with local communities to ensure sustainability of the local water resource and have launched The Coca-Cola India Foundation for Sustainable Development and Inclusive Growth. We will continue to work closely with stakeholders in our local communities to support community initiatives."

Unethical Companies: Coca-Cola


April 28, 2010 bboyd9 Coca-Cola is the largest soda provider in the world. Although it is widely consumed, many people are unaware of its labor violations. The company has come under fire in the last few months for the way in which its workers are treated in Guatemala. The primary source of all the violence is the workers union. On February 25, 2010, Coke was sued by those Guatemalan laborers, who claim that they, endured a campaign of violence from the people who worked for the bottling or processing plants owned by Coke (Business Week). This violence took place in Guatemala City. The perpetrators were employed by Incasa, which operated the bottling plant (Business Week). One of the plaintiffs is Jose Palacios, who faced violence after rejoining the workers union in 2004. Not only was he shot at and threatened at the bottling plant, but armed men broke into his home and threatened his family (Atlanta Business News). A few weeks after this invasion, in 2005, he was fired without a cause (North American Congress on Latin America). Another plaintiff in the case is Jose Chavez, a prominent union leader. In 2008, after he participated in collective-bargaining activities in Guatemala City, returned home to his waiting family. Upon his arrival, Chavezs son and nephew were brutally murdered in front of his eyes and his 16 year old daughter was gang-raped (North American Congress on Latin America). This violence was a response to his activity in the union. Coca-Cola has faced legal action by workers before. In 2001, it was sued by union laborers in Colombia for violence against unionized workers. In a statement at Cokes annual meeting of shareholders in 2005, the company claimed,Our company and our bottling partners have been accused of complicity in the murder of union members and the ongoing intimidation of union

members and of the suppression of union activity in Colombia. The allegations are not true (PBS). The company paid more attention to the problem only after an international boycott began in 2003 (Business Week). Ultimately, Coca-Cola and its bottlers were found not guilty and cleared of any wrong-doing by Colombian courts (PBS). When the case was brought to the United States, CocaCola fought to have its name removed from the lawsuit and got its wish. Although this has not been widely publicized, the labor violations of Coca-Cola are a prominent issue. Consumers of Coke, and other items produced by corporations with foggy labor practices, have to ask themselves how they can make a difference. Students at colleges across the United States, one being Rutgers Univeristy, have started boycotts of the soda. Rutgers students were successful in their activism, and the university has switched its contract to Pepsi (Killer Coke). A new documentary was released in 2009 called The Coca-Cola Case. It was filmed by German Gutierezz and Carmen Garcia to highlight the reality of union busting at Coca-Cola bottling plants in Colombia, Guatemala and Turkey (Green Muze). This movie reveals the practices of just one of the many multi-national corporations and upon watching it, the consumers will hopefully be inspired to better inform themselves about the products they consume (Green Muze). Here is a link to the trailer for this documentary: The Coca-Cola Case. Coca-Cola is one of the most powerful corporations in the world. Its business practices have to be questioned by the consumer to ensure that labor violations are not being committed.

http://killercoke.org/