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Thanda-Hearted Matlab

:
Coca Cola in India

A Case Study In Mehandiganj Village of Environmental and Community Impact and of the Grassroots Movement

Shira Wolf University of Wisconsin College Year in India Varanasi 2003-2004 Advisor: Dr. Ranjana Sheel Acknowledgements Vimalji- thank you for what seems like the hundreds of hours you spent with me translating tapes as well as for all of the insight you have shared with me. Neha- Thank you for accompanying me to Mehandiganj to help me with my first interviews. It provided me with important research material as well as interesting conversation. Nandalal- Thank you for taking me around Mehandiganj, for making me feel so welcome and for being very patient throughout all of my questions. Mona- Thank you for your help with pictures and printing; for sitting with me for long periods of time trying to figure the computer out. Ranjanaji- Thank you for your assistance on this paper and for supporting this idea. I am lucky to have had such a helpful advisor. Ramuji- thank you for too many things to list

This paper is dedicated to my grandmother, who taught me that stories should be told.

Table of Contents

Introduction:...................................................................................................................... 3 Colonialism, Post-Colonialism and India’s economy..................................................... 8 The History of Coca-Cola In India.................................................................................10 Coca Cola in India Now...................................................................................................14 Coca Cola In Mehandiganj Village, Varanasi...............................................................17 Background.................................................................................................................... 18 Critical Issues.................................................................................................................22 Pesticides in Coca Cola and other cold drinks.............................................................. 42 Resistance and Action......................................................................................................46 Background.................................................................................................................... 46 The Local Movement..................................................................................................... 50 Issues within the Mehandiganj/Banaras resistance movement and Some Personal Opinion............................................................................................................................. 83 Conclusion........................................................................................................................ 94 Appendix...........................................................................................................................97 2

Bibliography................................................................................................................... 145

Introduction: In an era of neo-liberal globalization, where the gap between rich and poor increases globally and within most countries, many historically rooted systems are at work. In India these systems have arisen from a history of colonialism and the realities of neo-liberalism that so greatly affect the country’s economy and socio-political scenario. One kind of system is when corrupt governments from developing countries allow corrupt companies from developed countries with corrupt governments to do corrupt work. This is happening all over the world and usually involves the same dozen or so companies. One of the worst multinational companies at work is the all American Coca Cola Company. In America, Coca cola is a simple drink, one you can get in a machine or at a store for under a dollar. It is considered a working class drink. In India it has acquired an entirely different association. It is a drink of the middle and upper classes, it is a sign of modernity and it is fashionable. While many of those who live in cities and suburbs consume the drink, people in villages are paying the price. With the upcoming elections, a slogan has come out in India- “Feel Good”; the feel good factor, India’s growing economy. The government and media are praising how everyone is feeling so good lately with the rise in the rupee; the growth of the middle and upper class. But take a walk around an entire city, from the big houses to the slums. Go to the rural areas and see artisan villages barely surviving while factories mass produce 3

Perhaps they are not two but one reality. Bottled water companies are 1 2 The signs are written in both Hindi and Roman Transliteration. that at least here in Varanasi. I have spent the school year living in Varanasi and every day walking through the streets one cannot help but notice the English signs hung up and painted on the walls everywhere. the walls are painted with coca cola slogans everywhere. but it is the way in which it is happening and the disregard for those who are not feeling good that is the problem.1 Many shops have their name written on coca cola signs. and a globalizing city. and mean Coca Cola. There are more cars and SUV’s then ever before yet the roads are not built for cars but for rickshaws. Some aspects of Benaras are as old as the city itself and at the same time things are changing just as the old things stay the same. Is India still feeling good? No doubt the growth in economy is good for the country and many constructive changes have come about.tradition and ritual. Cold Meaning. There are two different realities going on at once. dams will help people [who can afford it] obtain more water but local communities have been displaced as a result. the product of a history of colonialism and the consequential changes which ensued. many villages are moving in the opposite direction economically.and meanwhile you have kids herding water buffalo in the road and chanting men carrying dead bodies to be burned in the Ganga2. especially in the case of water. And what sign/painting is it that one usually sees? I would have to say. This seems to be happening all over India.consumer goods on their land. For example. shops have coca cola refrigerators. Holy River that runs through Varanasi 4 . thanda Matlab. it is the red and white slogan of Coca Cola. Tourism seems to have taken over certain areas causing new hotels and businesses to spring up and yet old rituals and pilgrimages still occur there. As this modernizing takes place in the city.

I have gathered my data in different ways. the will paper present a case study of the Coca cola Company in Mehandiganj village. people want cold drinks. move to the specific case study and follow the local grassroots movement.sold for the same price as milk. I present the history and background of the issue. Coca Cola is one such company whose destructive operations have a detrimental affect on surrounding villages. but now soft drinks are preferred. The bottling plant operates in the village and has severely affected their ecosystem so much that farmers’ livelihoods are being destroyed. In this paper I am following a story. and related cold drinks. only cold drinks (Coke. This paper presents a history of Coca Cola in India in relation to the India’s history of colonial and postcolonial discourse and economic liberalization policies. they want Coke and thumbs up. One is by spending time in Mehandiganj and talking 5 . A friend of mine and I like to drink coconut water. Even before Coca Cola came. Rajatalab. Her dance teacher told me that people do not want coconut water anymore. Lately my friends and I have tried to order fresh squeezed juice in restaurants and the person working always says that they have no juice. We have been told that the price has risen because there is less demand for it. Coca Cola is seen by many people in India as a fashionable drink. Following a historical background. Varanasi. Pepsi. it is an upper class drink and it is costly.they are a weaving village but there is less demand for Benarsi Sari’s. the village faced problems from globalization.) They often make a point of saying how there is no demand for juice. It used to be that coconut water was drunk in the hot season.taking water from villages free of charge to sell mineral water to the middle and upper class public as well as to tourists. This all occurs in the villages and many city people have no idea about the corruption that is occurring in the surrounding areas. which has just come to Varanasi for the hot season.

being a woman it has been hard to attend every protest because many of the city protests are attended by men only and at the bottling plant protests the police are known to be extremely violent.and I have wondered if some 6 . The entire village interviews are in the appendix. There are a few problems I have encountered in my research which have caused me to not have as much information as I would have liked. Through attending the world social forum I learned a lot about grassroots movements in India and through reading books I have provided myself a historical background for the present situation I am writing about. I have used a lot of quotes throughout this paper because I believe that a person’s voice is more meaningful than the facts alone. Whether it was attending rallies and lectures or simply sitting and talking casually. as I wanted to talk to them without the recorder in a more personal manner. talking to the district magistrate) that cannot be obtained and translated in several months. I should also acknowledge that being a white American could affect the way that some people answered my questions. Two. One is the time limit. talking to Coca Cola Co. These conversations were anything from talking about Coca Cola to comparing America to Varanasi to talking about religion and music. talking to more villagers.with the villagers. there is so much more information I would have liked to cover (talking to the pollution officer. by spending a significant amount of time with those involved in the movement. It makes it more personal because this is a personal issue. I have learned a lot about what I am writing about through spending time with people. I have also interviewed academics and those outside of the village who are involved in the movement. These interviews are not in the appendix but some quotes have been used. although it should be noted that some discussions I have had with people in the village and the local movement were not recorded. The second is gender. themselves.

thinking that as an American I could not be too opposed to the company. still show extreme opposition to the company and extreme devisation done to the Mehandiganj community by the Coca-Cola Company. I have tried my hardest to use people’s opinions and voices because it is important to realize how things like this affect people. 7 . not just a society. Not just land. but also an individual person. The results I have found.residents of Mehandiganj may have toned down their opposition to Coca-Cola. however.

Mukherjee. Penguin Books. Mridula & Mukherjee. In agriculture. industry.1 Throughout colonial rule. education. Western Europe. India gained an independent economy and a crucial factor in autonomous economies following independence from colonization is the entrance into the world economy of capitalism. Bipan. 2000. This process began during colonization and following independence it continued to transpire. New Delhi. this led to the use of the richer soil and available water for 1 Chandra. social infrastructure and healthcare were not given much attention. India’s policies were determined in Britain and in the interest of the British economy and British capitalist class. Aditya. the British cared more about colleting land revenue then about development. The methods of importing and exporting during colonialism were that India began producing and exporting what Britain needed at cheap prices. 8 . such as minerals and raw goods. Designated farmers began growing commercial crops such as cotton to be exported for the British. including Britain. Their other agricultural interest was the production of crops which would enter the world market. for example. This worked well for the British who could export what they needed at a cheap price and have Indian’s begin to depend on foreign products rather then creating indigenous ones. and the United States had done. Regarding natural resources. which enjoyed active state support in the early stages of development. Unfortunately. Post-Colonialism and India’s economy: After independence. At the same time. Areas such as agriculture. An important aspect of the underdevelopment of India was the denial of state support to industry and agriculture. This was contrary to what happened in nearly all the capitalist countries. The colonial state imposed free trade in India and refused to give Tariff protection to Indian industries as Britain. India After Independence: 1947-2000. the British imported goods such as cars biscuits and electrical appliances. Britain took much of India’s social surplus and spent only a small share of it on development in areas that would benefit the public at large. even since the early 1900’s there has been a benefit given to the multinational over the local.Colonialism.

British firms controlled coal mining. India had made some progress economically and an Indian capitalist class had arisen in society. Penguin Books. India’s economy entered the world economy and multinational companies were able to come into India. Overall. India After Independence: 1947-2000. New Delhi. Aditya. After independence in 1947. There was a decline in per capita agricultural production which fell by 14 percent between 1901 and 1941. Bipan.1 By the late 1930’s. Mridula & Mukherjee. the process of colonialism in India led to an economic and agricultural underdevelopment. most of the money made was kept by the British and the poorer crops were kept in the country. cotton industries. At the same time. 9 .exported crops rather than for the food crops needed by those in the area. All of these things gave room for corrupt activity and manipulation by both foreign and indigenous companies. There was also a lack of regulations protecting human and environmental rights to direct both Indian and multinational companies. Mukherjee. With a developing political and economic system. and tea/coffee plantations. 2000. By 1947. the qualities of artisans’ lives were very poor in terms of economy and health. insurance. Finally in the 1940’s Indian brand and Indian controlled companies began to come into operation. Many Indian companies were controlled by British capitalists as well. banking. 1 Chandra. there was an absence of important regulations and restrictions for foreign companies operating in India such as how much direct foreign investment a company could have. This process eventually led to an underdevelopment in state agriculture as the better crops were exported.

the Congress party won power. When Coca Cola arrived in India they used many marketing techniques to introduce “soft drinks” to the public. these investors would have no vote or say in how any operations were handled. Coca Cola agreed with investing forty percent foreign equity but stated that they would still hold full power in technical and administrative units with no local participation allowed. The major Indian cold drink brand in the market was Parle and many other drinks on the market were also produced by Indian companies. social. This demand was against the Foreign Exchange act for though it would give ownership of forty percent of Coca Cola’s Indian operations to Indian investors.a period of social change in both India and the rest of the world. with George Fernandez as the minister of industry. Led by Jawaharlal Nehru. stating that foreign companies selling consumer goods must invest forty percent of its equity stake in India and in its Indian associates. the Foreign Exchange Act was implemented. during world war two. the company earned a lot of money in a short amount of time. Their departure was two years following the emergency. when Indira Gandhi warned the public of the countries poverty crisis as well as of an intervention from abroad 10 . and political development with the rising and falling of different political leaders and parties.The History of Coca-Cola In India (this is by no means complete. Throughout the next decade and especially after Nehru’s death in 1964. The government instructed Coca Cola to either write up a new plan or to leave the country. and it meant to provide a basic political/economic timeline in relation to Coca-Cola): Coca Cola came to India and introduced soft drinks to the Indian public in the year of 1956. Operating under one hundred percent foreign equity. In January 1974 when Indira Gandhi was in power. eight years after independence. much struggle went on in terms of India’s economic.

1 2 Ranjith. Their investment was not much. 250 million rupees (about $8 million) as profit in the twenty years they had been in the country. Parle put a Cokelike drink on the market in 1995 called “thumbs up” which was a huge success. They called themselves the Janta party and were made up of people with various political ideologies. 2004. The Janta party came into power in 1977 and stressed that Coca Cola should either accept the foreign exchange act or leave the country. India. including George Fernandez as the socialist representative. They came into the country with 600. making it easy for Coca Cola to re-enter India. p18 Sanskritic meaning. Holy Water From the West. Thrissur.Swa-self. On this 600. by a modest estimate. George Fernandez said: Coke had 100 percent equity in India. In 1976 Indira Gandhi called for elections and all of the other political parties formed one party in her opposition. Coke was made illegal but in some areas it was still sold for an expensive price on the black market. which at the present rate of exchange is less than $20. with Goerge Fernandez as an instrumental factor in their eviction. as Double Seven could only be afforded by the upper class at that time.R.1 George Fernandez and the Janta Party coined the slogan of swadeshi2. This term had originally been used in the Swadeshi movement during the colonial period and has also been used by Swadeshi Jagran Manch. They left India that year. Deshi. Altermedia. After the departure of Coca Cola Company from India.which could destabilize India even further. they had taken out of the country. (indigenous awakening forum) who are aligned with the BJP but against the operation of foreign companies in India. 11 .of the country= of ones own country.they didn’t have to spend as much money introducing soft drinks to the public.000 rupee investment.000 rupees. This kept soft drinks very alive in the market.000. It also helped maintain a visible gap between socio-economic classes in India. K. promoting the existence of Indian companies and usage of Indian products over multinational companies and products. While Coca Cola was gone the government put a new soft drink on the market written as “77” and called Double Seven.

there was a period of instability. a corollary of taking loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In 1996 Congress suffered the worst ever electoral defeat as Hindu nationalist BJP emerged as the largest single party.The Janta party did not last long because people administered the party with different philosophies on how the country should be run. had now been completely modified. In 1980 Indira Gandhi returned to power heading the Congress party. The foreign exchange act. allowing greater freedom for repatriation of capital. The government and board were very liberal in accepting proposals and allowed up to one hundred percent equity to foreign investors in some cases.P Singh became prime minister. When the Janta party broke up in 1979. In 1998 12 . As a result. automatic approval began to be gained for companies whose equities were to be over fifty one percent. which had once prevented companies from keeping too much equity. Rajiv Gandhi came into power. In 1993 Coca Cola re-entered after government approval. due to the new liberalization policies that were coming about in the economy. Automatic approval was to be granted for equity investment of up to fifty one percent and for foreign technology agreements in high priority industries. In 1989 he was voted out of power and V. The modification made it so that companies that exceeded foreign equity by forty percent of the total were to be treated on par with Indian companies. In 1991 Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao began an economic reform program. This same year Pepsi was approved to enter India. In 1984 Indira Gandhi was assassinated and her son. India became a part of the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP). The government created the Foreign exchange promotional board as to act as a body for approving and disapproving proposals. Economic policies were greatly changing in favor of multinational companies. Non-Indian Residents and companies owned by them abroad were allowed to invest up to one hundred percent equity in high priority industries.

Before Coke and Pepsi re-entered India. the only form of protection afforded to the domestic productive sectors was that offered by tariffs.1 In 1999. more than fifty Indian soft-drink brands had been developed and 200 production plants set up. 2004. Coca Cola bought Parle. K. So what happened is that Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola could demolish the local products in one stroke.I’m saying it’s considered that if you don’t give Pepsi cola or coca cola than your marriage is not a status marriage. They continued the process of liberalizing India’s economy. Goerge Fernandez became a part of the BJP Coalition. which bottled Thums up. Limca and Gold Spot. a huge propaganda [was] made on coca cola and Pepsi cola and the result was [that] their clientele increased. The Market That Failed. In India it is a drink of the middle and upper classes. Even in Marriages. Fourth thing is that Pepsi cola and coca cola type of drinks became part of the urban cosmopolitan upper class scenario but they equally became part of the suburban scenario also. home of Coca Cola Company. So they disappeared.P and Ghosh. p 46. seeming as though he had promoted Swadeshi ideals to gain public approval or recognition. So that also became part of the marriage scenario.R. By 2001. which were also simultaneously being reduced. the drink is considered a working class drink. Thrissur. What happens is people have a tendency to follow what happens in the big towns because that is considered as a trend setter so when they saw people are taking coca cola in big cities or Pepsi colas and that’s being served in the reception so they started introducing the same thing in small suburban areas. Holy Water From the West. A decade of Neoliberal Economic Reforms in India. sold at the same 1 Chandrasekhar. Previously there were a lot of indigenous drinks. 2 Ranjith. that is electronic media. a marriage ceremony as you know in India there is a lot of meeting and all that and as soon as the marriage party comes you are supposed to treat them with cold drinks and with food and sweets and so forth.3 In the United States. 3 Deepak Malik. barring a very few items.the BJP formed a coalition government under Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. 2002 p86. C. drinks made in India which were in the market. India.2 As time passed after Coke and Pepsi entered India. there was complete liberalization of the import of consumer goods. Jayati. Second thing is with the expansion of media. India’s top soft drink brand. New Delhi. India. head of Institute of Gandhian Studies March 9th. 13 . Over the three annual Export-Import Policies presented by the BJP-led government from 98-99 onwards. It came [Coca Cola for the second time] when globalization and liberalization were in full swing. 2004. Leftword Books. people witnessed the progressive disappearance of indigenous drinks and the demand for healthier drinks lowered as well. Altermedia.

These measures are such that they go to a sweet shop and say if you sell coca cola or Pepsi cola than your board with become a glow board. Coke began bottling mineral water under the brand name of Kinley. you may not have a fridge. Deepak Malik. In the year 2000. Coca Cola bottles most of the cold drinks that are sold in every store and restaurant. Coca Cola. since almost all cold drinks on the market are bottled by the two companies. March 9th. there really is no choice but to serve Coke or Pepsi brand drinks if one wants cold drinks at a marriage. and more than six hundred in Mexico. sprite and Fanta. diet Coke. Either way. a fashionable trend. A market assessment by ORG Marg. compared with fifteen in Pakistan. 14 . Remember the habit of course is a very big part of the social scenario in the country also. states that Coca Cola owns fifty seven percent of the soft drink market. and since they went for a huge market promotion in a big way they got some kind of encouragement or some kind of leverage in the villages because they have very interesting market promotional measures. Coca Cola estimates that India’s per-capita consumption of soft drinks is six bottles a year.price as milk. 2004. In 2001 they put Shock and powdered concentrate called Sun fill onto the market. the new type. So all those things really attracted the retail market and out of that a habit was created. The annual per capita consumption of soft drinks in India is much lower than many other third world countries and [the Coca Cola Company] is getting ready to sweep the market with novel tactics to woo customers. twenty two in China. Limca. Pepsi owns forty one percent and native companies own two percent. something that will be very fashionable. Maaza. and all those kinds of things. 2 Coca Cola in India Now: 1 2 Ranjith.Thums Up.1 The marketing strategies of Coca Cola are growing to reach all parts of the Indian society: They became some kind of symbol of a modernized outlook. 48. then I will give you a fridge. Citra and Gold Spot.

forcing farmers to experiment with other crops and greatly affecting the livelihood of those who depend on agriculture for their income.500 coconuts a year. the little patch of land in the green. The first and most successful example is in the village of Plachimada in the state of Kerala. In his last harvest. owner of smallholding. free of charge. Coke directly employs 10. It provided work for dozens of laborers. Then Coke arrived and built a 40-acre bottling plant nearby. severely lowering the village wells. The Coca Cola Bottling plant in Plachimada covers an area of forty acres. has invested over $1 billion in the country.000 people in India and a network of twenty nine contract-packers also manufactures products for the company. Coke had been drawing up 1. picturesque rolling hills of Palakkad yielded 50 sacks of rice and 1. Due to water pollution. While local employees get paid through contract labor at around rupees 66 per day.5 million liters of water daily 15 . officials are paid salaries around rupees 120. Shahul Hameed. In the past decade. His irrigation wells have run dry. thanks to Coke drawing up 1.5 million liters of groundwater daily. Three years ago.Currently in 2004 there are twenty seven wholly owned bottling plants and seventeen franchisee-owned bottling plants in India. The President of the company makes rupees 250. the cultivation of paddy wheat in over six hundred acres of land was abandoned. many issues have arisen regarding the affect of coca cola bottling plants upon the villages where they are situated. Coca Cola Co. Large resistance movements have been growing in these village areas as a result. Due to the lack of regulations (such as groundwater extraction regulations) and to the governments apathy in the of lack of adherence to existing regulations (such as the water pollution control act).000 a month.000 a month and it is said that he has a way of getting around tax payment. could manage only five sacks of rice and just 200 coconuts.

Along with groundwater extraction.2 The study also warned that Coca Cola’s operations were greatly reducing water quality. not a private asset. Similar problems have also been happening in the village of Sivaganga in Tamil Nadu.through its deep wells to bottle Coke. This waste was also dispersed to farmers who used it on their crops. the villagers began their series of protests. Thrissur. 1 Water pollution also caused an increase in health problems among the village. 2002. India. without irony. the village of Kudu in Maharashtra and the village of Mehandiganj in Varanasi. On April 7th. thums-Up. Villagers stated that the polluted water which flowed from the factory gave them stomach disorders and skin rashes. A study done by the Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad warned that if Coke continued to extract groundwater.R. K. 2003. Altermedia. Furthermore. However. They ruled that water is a human right for the public. A BBC special was aired on this topic and the truth about the toxic waste became known to the public. On April 22. the water in their wells had lowered drastically. the Plachimada Coca Cola bottling plant was shut down and the people’s movement had won. only this fertilizer turned out to be full of lead and cadmium. On May 16th 2003. the court also ruled that the Panchayat had no right to revoke the license themselves. 1 (Krishna Swami quoted from ‘Holy Water From The West’) Ranjith. the Perumatty Grama Panchayat3 revoked the license which had been granted to the Coca Cola plant. the risk of water depletion was not too far ahead. Sprite and the drink the locals call. Fanta. Holy Water From the West. In December 2003. the Kerala high court took the side of the Panchayat and canceled Coca Cola’s license. The Coca Cola Company disposed of their toxic waste on the land by saying that it was fertilizer. 3 Village Council 2 16 . 2004. the people of Plachimada complained about toxic waste.

Coca Cola In Mehandiganj Village. Varanasi: 17 .Villagers as well as city activists have been staging peaceful protests against Coca Cola bottling plants but so far they have not found the success that was won in Kerala. not to mention that one hundred percent of Kerala is literate and they have the lowest infant mortality rate. Kerala is known for being more supportive of human and environmental rights. Part of this is due to the fact that the laws and regulations in Kerala are different than in other Indian states.

18 . a market in the old city. a restaurants name will be on a shiny new billboard. Thus. The shop can have a new board to advertise themselves if they agree to advertise Coke products at the same time. but with less demand and the entry of the power loom. the closer the bus gets to the bottling plant the more you see the painted signs smothered everyone. and a scarf. Yet the corrupt operations of Bharat Coca-Cola Bottling North-East and their advertisements all over the city seem to signify that this is indeed a modernizing. Additional advertisements are on billboards given by the company to shops. globalizing city. Most of them are red and white advertisements painted on the outside of little shops. Mehandiganj is a village 20 km from the city of Varanasi and was once a successful weaving village. On the bus ride to Rajatalab (the area where Mehandiganj village lies). These advertisements seem to cover many of the walls in the city. Moreover. All of these advertisements are not just in the cities but near the villages as well. Due to the lowering in 1 Indian suit made of a long dress-like shirt. Their Benarsi Saris are still sold in Chowk. pants.Background: Varanasi is said to be the oldest living city in the world. reading Thanda Matlab Coca-Cola (Coca Cola means cold) in both Hindi and English. Nandalal Master. a leader in the village explained that the demand has also gone down due to the fact that women are beginning to prefer the more modern Salwar Kamiz1 suits over saris. people prefer to buy something more durable and long lasting these days such as machine made synthetic sari’s rather than handmade silk saris. The result of this is a great increase in the village’s poverty. . It is certainly less modern than other places in India. adults have had to look for other work. with coca cola or thums up drinks in the background. Other advertisements are close up pictures of famous celebrities with Coke bottles.

The Parle bottling plant was built and began operating in the year of 1995. This too is a problem because many of the fields have gone bad due to the water pollution from the Coca Cola bottling plant. In 1993 Coke and Pepsi both gained entry into India through the governments new liberalization policies. but the closer you get to the plant. and cold spot.demand for sari’s and for weaving work. This project will be discussed later in the paper. Limca. While the children weave most of the adults either go to the city for work or work in the fields. Mehandiganj is bright green in the areas farther away from the bottling plant. Some of the men in the village are also potters. On February 10th 1999. the weaving is now done by children. Parle had been bottling Thumbs Up. Above: The condition of the village land on the backside of the bottling plant. making clay pots all day long to be sold along the main road and in the city of Benaras. The Parle factory had 19 . Coca Cola bought Parle Soft drinks and Kejriwal Beverages PVT. Currently about 10. LTD in Mehandiganj village became Bharat Coca-Cola Bottling North-East.000 people are living in the village and it is part of a village reconstruction project being done by the non governmental organization of Lok Chetana Samiti. the land becomes more crumbled and dry and it is completely visible that the land has gone bad.

During the lawsuit Kejerwal sold Parle to Coca Cola. pollution did not begin and groundwater was not extracted in Mehandiganj until the Coca Cola Company came into operation. this is not the case. The Gram Panchayat placed a lawsuit on them for this illegal occupation. When the problems began the villagers did not know what the cause was. this land has still not been given. Soft drinks were not produced. Villagers also claim that the powers that be of the village were given bribe money to keep silent about the problems being caused 20 . However.been built on land belonging to the Gram Sabha (village council) plus about seven acres of farm land. When Coke bought the company they promised jobs to the villagers. For this reason the villagers did not oppose the bottling plant in the beginning as they were continuously waiting for the jobs that they had been promised. leaving the issue of land occupation unresolved. when the bottling plants operations began taking a noticeable toll on the land. They have said in interviews that they did not realize at first why their land was going bad. The compromise was that the village would be given new land in return for the occupied Gram Sabha land. Villagers did not begin opposing the plant until the year 2002. When they did come to know the root of the problem they did not think it was within their power to do anything about it. and so the Parle factory never went into operation after constructing their factory. when people wonder why the protests began when Coca Cola came and not when Parle was there. Therefore. The law suit continued against Coca Cola for six months until a compromise was made. It is not the case that they are blaming a multinational company over a national one. Also when they realized that the jobs they were waiting for either would exploit them for a few months then release them or were not coming at all. This compromise was due to members of the Panchayat accepting bribe money as well as political pressure form the local BJP state legislator and some ministers in the BJP government.

it was only after the non-governmental organizations came to them that they were empowered to begin their protest. When the villagers saw the approach road leading to the village being blocked by the coca cola plant. In that case. Because earlier the Panchayat members had told the villages that the panchayat had sold this land to the company. However. They formed this committee to put an end to the water pollution flowing from the factory onto their farms. As for the other villagers. and when the people came to know about the verdict which clearly stated that the company had illegally occupied gram Sabha land then the Panchayat members had no choice but to openly oppose coca cola because their theft had been caught. Many of these organizations say that they are not just opposed to coca cola but to multinationals in general. head of Lok Samiti and national convener of NAPM explains the background in more detail: Initially the Gram Panchayat had secretly accepted bribes from the company to transfer the Gram Sabha land to the company. people began to get suspicious about the activities of the Panchayat members and when we dug out the court verdict in the law suit which the Panchayat had filed against the company. if the people of power in the village were given bribe money then the rest of the villagers’ protests would not have gone so far without their support. who tackles a number of other issues. 21 . Neither the villagers nor we knew about this transfer. Lok Samiti. Nandalal Master. their hard work and focus on the issue shows that they operate very separately from the organization. and part of their fight against globalization. The farmers formed a group in September 2002 which they officially named Goun Bachao Sangarsh Samiti (Save the Village Struggle Committee) in September 2003. a local branch of Lok Chetana Samiti1 and the National Alliance of Peoples movements (NAPM) made of Mehandiganj residents began their activism against the plant in May 2003. questions began to be asked and then when the press reporters asked questions about this to the Panchayat members and when we of the Lok Samiti put pressure on these members to clarify this matter only then we came to know about this secret transfer of land. So everybody kept quiet thinking that the land had been sold to the company and the proceeds from the sale would be used for the whole village by the Panchayat and also people from the village would get jobs in the plant. One man working for Lok Chetana Samiti called Coca Cola “an example”. because they realized that if they would not 1 This organization and the creation of Lok Samiti’s in villages will be discussed in the “Resistance and Action” chapter of the paper.by the plant. But when no jobs were forthcoming and no money was visible anywhere from the sale then because the Panchayat members had transferred the land simply by taking bribes.

20 km from the city of Varanasi. the company had promised the Gram Panchayat that if it hired five hundred workers. The land behind the plant used to be the approach road leading towards the village and when the villagers told us that they had no more road leading to their village then we inquired and found that and we wondered where did that road go? So when we dug out the land records pertaining to that road we found that the Gram Sabha had transferred that road to the company in view of an equal amount of land promised by the company to the Gram Sabha. So the leaders of the Panchayat accepted the occupation of the road land by the company thinking that at least people of the village will get jobs in return for this occupation. And the minority that lives in that area has very few people living there so there was no one to listen to their demands because there were too few. When we brought out the land records only then the truth came out.demand that the company vacate the gram Sabha land then their position of power would be threatened. But while the factories border wall was being constructed. At that time we of the Lok Samiti were not involved in this matter. At that time there were to or three movements going on. or the Gram Panchayat fighting against the company. April 9th. And the company had acted in a willful manner in occupying the village road. And they are a caste minority in the village and since eighty percent of the population all of whom belong to the Patel Caste were not being directly affected by the companies actions they did not see it as their problem. We came to know about this reality only later. secondly the workers working in the company organized a one week agitation in pursuit of their demands but the company broke up that agitation and the third movement was being organized by the farmers there whose crops were being damaged by the polluted water from the company. When the villages found their road blocked by the company they questioned the Gram panchayat and the panchayat assured them that the company had promised permanent employment to 75% of the village. which the local panchayat had initiated against the company. One more factory that worked in the companies favor was that the village quarter which lies behind the plant in the approach road area is inhabited by people of a different caste.one was this dispute about the land. Then having no other alternative they began to demand this land back. What actually happened was that the company on its own occupied the land on which the road was and brought it within its boundary without asking permission from the Gram Sabha. This was true for all three movements. nor was there any organization or union which was there to voice their grievances. and this action was taken by the Gram Sabha on its own. 2004. whether it be the workers agitation. What happened was that every time the villages created a mass movement against the company. Bharat Coca-Cola Bottling North-East is in Mehandiganj Village. the leaders of these movements were co-opted by the company and they would accept bribes and stop protesting against the company. 22 . And their lives will improve. or the farmers protesting against the company. on Shur Sha Suri Rd. The Gram Panchayat had to go to court against the company because of pressure from the villagers.1 Critical Issues: As was Kejriwal Beverages PVT LTD. On the 1 Nandalal Master. four hundred of them would be from their village. the Gram Sabha entered into a dispute with the company over the land that the company had occupied it without asking permission and in this dispute the Panchayat went to court and obtained a restraining order against the company. We were the fourth movement to come into the picture after these three. As a result for the next six months all the work in the company came to a stop.

employment and land issues. New Delhi. the level of ground water table drops. so that the water below the surface can be pulled up at rates far exceeding those of recharge. The first issue which will be discussed is the issue of groundwater: Water comes down as rain. There are five main issues in Mehandiganj in relation to the bottling plant and the affects of these issues create even more predicaments for the ecosystem and for those who depend on it as a source of income. but the rate at which this water could be extracted was previously limited by the capabilities of human and bullock power. and Guha. This highway. This limitation has now been overcome with the development of diesel or electric power operated pumps. electricity. While access to surface water can be readily controlled and manipulated. Penguin Books India.way to Mehandiganj the vehicles drive over a very rough and broken up road. India.1 1 Gadgil. In the section of Mehandiganj closest to the bottling plant as well as in several others. The five main issues are regarding groundwater extraction. Indians have been tapping water since the days of the Mohenjadaro civilization. 1995. It flows on the surface as well as under the ground. currently being widened by cutting down thousands of trees. Madhav. is being funded by the World Bank. When the rate at which the groundwater is withdrawn exceeds the rate at which it is being recharged. Ramachandra. A large sign in both Hindi and English reads that this is Prime Minister Vajpayee’s “dream project” of a national four lane highway. Ecology and Equity. so that more and more effort is required to get at it. you can see the wide torn apart road as well as hear the loud sound of the electrical water pump drawing up village groundwater. the use and abuse of nature in contemporary India. ground water may be tapped at will by the landowner. The bottling plant physically covers seven acres but the total area that has been affected by the factory waste is about twenty acres and the area affected by groundwater extraction is much larger than that. so long as he or she has the resources to reach down and lift it. pollution. On the sign is a picture of him with his arms outstretched. 23 . leading to a rapid lowering or even local exhaustion of local groundwater. being widened onto village land.

Especially being in non-monsoon months. that is two million five thousand liters of water extracted per day. Out of all the countries in the world. excessive groundwater extraction reduces not only the aquifer but the water table of the entire surrounding area. science and technology can not replace water. The level of a historic well along G. a farmer can suddenly find himself with a dried out aquifer unaware that this danger was in the works. It takes ten liters of water to make one liter of Coke and an average of two Lakh. For this mass production the plant draws twenty five Lakh liters (2. Again.In this quote it is stated that when the rate that groundwater is extracted exceeds the rate which the earth can naturally recharge itself (through rain) then the results can be devastating. India has the largest amount of groundwater being extracted by private companies: 24 .000) liters of coca cola are produced every day. That is certainly not a rate in which the earth alone can recharge itself. Since groundwater cannot be seen above the ground. the villagers use wells and hand pumps to obtain their water.two Lakh sixty thousand (200.500. There is no fix for water depletion. Moreover.000 to 260.000 liters) of groundwater daily. the amount of water being extracted is dangerous because there is no rain to recharge the groundwater. Just as the previous quote warns. The land is Mehandiganj is becoming much drier due to the diminished groundwater. While the company extracts huge amounts of water through an electronic pump. In each truck are 500-550 crates and in each crate are twenty four bottles. Here are some facts: In the peak (hot) season fifty to sixty trucks leave the premises of the bottling plant daily. the result is that since the plant has been in operation the groundwater level has lowered from fifteen to forty feet and villagers claim that in the past few summers the wells go dry.T road has gone down which diminishes the groundwater meant for farming and reduces availability of drinking water for the village.

4 If the factory does not close down. and the northwestern state of Gujurat. Especially hard hit are the Punjab and Haryana states. our tube wells are going dry. New Delhi India. Mehandiganj Village.1 Groundwater extraction is one of the main complaints (translated from Bhojpuri to English) of the Mehandiganj villagers. but if there is a wedding or ceremony at home. 2003. causing aquifer water tables to drop by 3 to 10 feet (about 1 to 3 meters) per year. The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the Worlds Water. then how will 1 Barlow. where 90 percent of the wells have experienced a serious decline in water level. Leftword Books. So the first problem that will come out is that there will be no water. then how can we go to a place three kilometers away to get water for the drinking needs? Everybody will die without water here. March 15th 2004. In the state of Rajasthan. How will we live if there will be no water? It is sucking up all the water. then we will die for want of even a single drop off water. In most parts of the country. In the state of Tamil Nadu. even though those places experience flooding every year.It is India that has the highest volume of annual groundwater overdraft of any nation in the world. India’s breadbasket. 2 Vidya. Then that would be good for us. the sugar. if it gets all the profit then what will we do? Our agriculture is getting scorched. Now just think how can we go to a place three kilometers away to fetch drinking water for ourselves? We can manage every days drinking water needs with the present set up. Blue Gold. 2004. Mehandiganj Village. Tony. Maude and Clarke. There will be such a severe drought here due to the coca cola company that there is no limit to how severe the drought will be. Then what will we drink and eat? 2 When the Coca Cola plant was not here then the level of water was quite high but since the coca cola plant has been set up our groundwater level has gone down by at least twenty five feet. That’s why we want it to leave our country. Only their leaving will be good for us. The level of water in the wells is going down.3 The Coca Cola plant will extract water from a distance of three kilometers to do its work. 6 Papad is a dry fried Indian bread 25 . and many aquifers have run dry. And in Punjab and in the country of Bangladesh. 3 Raj Narayan Patel. and farms become as dry as papad6. Mehandiganj Village. the water system of the city of Jodhpur literally exploded when the water table beneath the city was drained dry. 5 Sukdhei. March 15th. 4 Vidya. According to the International Water Management Institute. 2004. 2004. March 15th. the drop in the water table is even greater than China’s. It has reduced our groundwater level. groundwater tables have fallen as much as 99 feet (about 30 meters) in 30 years. Since those people are extracting that water it is but natural that the wells will dry up. if they don’t give us water then what will happen to our agriculture system?5 The whole matter is that if water will not come into the taps then what will we do? Will we raise our families and look after their healthcare or will we spend our time trying to get water? If farming becomes totally barren. a quarter of India’s grain harvest could be lost in the near future because of aquifer depletion. Mehandiganj Village. The main difference is that now we have a real problem in getting water. water mining is taking place at twice the rate of natural recharge. The water belongs to our country. March 15th. p 24.

We are not greedy for their stuff. But only they who stand to benefit should get these hand pumps installed in their places. Some people have accepted these pumps but others see it as a form of manipulation. Mehandiganj Village. March 15th 2004. This contaminated water is what local people will end up drinking and what these hand pumps will help them reach. They installed hand pumps so that the people will not try to ride them away from here.3 Excessive groundwater extraction leads to the contamination of the water because as the water level lowers it becomes more polluted with dissolved minerals. we don’t want their things. Protest rally in Lanka. 2004. 26 . Vidya: They also installed many hand pumps. 3 Conversation between Vidya and another Woman. Why should we seeing the fact that we don’t stand to benefit anyway? …that’s why we want the company to leave. Everybody is trying there best to make them go away. some people take the things and some people do not. the company offered to have hand pumps built in the village as an alternative to wells. Nandalal Master.2 After much protest and unrest in the village. From time to time Coca Cola also distributes things to the village and again. Mehandiganj. 1 2 Woman. March 15th. They distributed these things because they thought that if they would please us by doing this then we would not chase them away from here.1 You can imagine for yourself what would be the condition of a place where 25 hundred thousand liters of water are extracted every day. now lets see how long it takes. In the last five years. Woman: See at that time they distributed medicines and blankets and utensils. the company has extracted so much water from there that the water level has gone down to 40 feet. It is like a big penance. We extract water from our wells only according to our needs and this does not affect the level of the water at all. 2004.we survive? If it goes away from here then it will be a big boost for our welfare. But if you were to install a powerful water pump in the same well and let the pump run for twenty four hours a day you can very well imagine whether or not the water level of that well would go down. February 10th. Varanasi.

Pollution is another very large complaint of the villagers, and the issue is that the company had been dumping polluted water onto the villager’s fields. After many protests, they built a pipeline to dispose of the polluted water. Yet the problems remains that all of the land that the water has touched has been ruined. Farmers say that nothing will grow on that land, it remains infertile. Therefore the farmers are at a disadvantage because a lowering in the harvest
One area where polluted water was dumped, into a stream leading to a field of paddy crops

means a lowering in their income. Until July 2003, the Factory

had been dumping their polluted water into the fields and orchards. This caused an area of over twenty acres of paddy wheat and chick peas to be destroyed. Eucalyptus and Neem trees have gone dry and other trees have also been affected. Dumping the water in these areas also greatly increased the amounts of mosquito’s as well as skin disease. Villagers say that as soon as the water came into contact with their skin they experienced an intense itching sensation. Water chemical ash was also being dumped onto the land as industrial garbage, which ended up flying around and spreading. Wherever the ash was dumped, the land would lose its productivity. Once in a while the company still disposes some of this 27

white powder on the fields though mostly they are storing it inside of the plant. All of this has severely lowered the harvest and as a result lowered the income of farmers. Even though the company has built a pipeline, they have not reimbursed the farmers for their lost money. In a way, money continues to be lost because the now infertile land could have been used to sow crops and make more money from a larger harvest. Moreover, if enough grain does not grow, then the village is forced to buy grain to eat even when they are spending their time trying to grow it themselves. Below are some of the villagers’ opinions on this matter:
We think to ourselves, “If we have to buy food grains in order to eat then what’s the point.” Even if the farms yield a harvest we’ll still buy food from outside. If you can’t get a harvest from your farms then why put up with it? How can we eat if our farms don’t yield any crop?1 Sukhdei: When this water spread into the orchards and fields, our crops were damaged. This water has harmed all the orchards and boy there are so many mosquitoes that you can’t even imagine. There are so many mosquitoes that you got measles [bites all over] on your hands and feet. And also boils on your skin. Other woman adds in: the water looked clean, so we put that water into our farms to save the crops from burning in the heat. And we had no idea that this was garbage water. Sukhdei: we would put that water into our fields, and the fields were dry and parched, but we had no idea that it was harmful water. Other woman: but when this water came into contact with your skin, you experienced an intense itching sensation. You couldn’t stop scratching yourself.2 There is a farm belonging to a Harijan3, where chick pea had been sowed. And in this field there was so much slush from the factory that when buffalos used to go there they used to die. Now just think, would we spend our money into buying medicines for our children or for our cattle or for feeding the children? In this era of inflation how much can one person possibly earn? People are tired of working hard to earn some extra money and how will we get our sons and daughters married off? And if it doesn’t happen [the wedding] then they [the children] will run away.4 Earlier the waste water of the village used to flow into the pond of Kalipur. And that water used to flow into the Gangaji5, but since the time they began to build the bridge, the water began to flood our farms, and our farming began to get ruined. That’s the matter. If nothing will grow in the fields, then suppose there’s only one source of earning, then will we devote our time to supporting the family and looking after their healthcare or earning? How will our children survive? How will they live?6
1 2

Vidya, Mehandiganj Village, March 15th, 2004. Sukhdei and another Woman, Mehandiganj Village, March 15th, 2004. 3 Harijan= a politically correct name started by Gandhi to be used when referring to the scheduled classes 4 Another Woman from Mehandiganj Village, March 15th, 2004. 5 The Ganga River. The phrase “ji” as added after the word Ganga for respect. 6 Another Woman from Mehandiganj Village, March 15th, 2004.

28

These people [the company] throw broken shards of bottles in our fields. And they dump their dirty black water from their factory into the fields. It is causing a lot of damage. It should go away from here; it should go away from our country. The water in our wells and hand pumps has gone down a lot. There are many mosquitoes. And there are many sicknesses, and the villagers of that part of the village1 are always paying for medicines and medical treatment. We are always distraught about paying for our medicines. All this is the crisis hovering over us. That is why we are running from pillar to post to get coca cola out of here. And the animals don’t get to graze because where they dump their waste water, there even grass doesn’t grow. And if animals were to drink that water, they would die.2

The spreading of polluted water into the farms has severely affected the lives of farmers whose incomes are dependent upon agriculture. Two farmers of the village, Raj Narayan Patel, a leader of the Goun Bachao movement (save the village movement) and Mattaiilal, president of the Goun Bachao movement, have told about what this pollution has done to their lives and the life of other farmers as well as how the groundwater extraction affects them.
Right from the time when the coca cola company began here about 7 or 8 years ago they have spreading pollution here. Due to the dumping of dirty water, the crops have become destroyed, and all the big trees also withered away. And we asked the company to make arrangements for an alternative dumping site of their water because we said that due to this water, mosquitoes are spreading everywhere and also diseases. They said “so should we emit our water into the sky?” Then we started sit-ins and protests against the company, and we also gave the DM3 a petition and the DM of Varanasi asked this company to change the way they were doing things so they installed a pipeline and they began to emit their dirty water in a site a little outside the Bhikharipur village across the GT road. And now the same kind of water is being dumped there. And the outcome of this was that since the time the factory has been set up, the water level has gone down a lot. So much so that the water in the wells has diminished a lot in quantity so the amount of drinking water was reduced and also the water needed for irrigation that we get from hand pumps and pumping sets etc. has also diminished in quantity. In my own case, what happened was that earlier my pumping set used to work even when the water level was at 40 feet below the ground. But since the time the factory was set up the level of water began to go down and a time came when my pumping set became totally dysfunctional and I had to get re-drilling done in the ground to reach the new water level. And when I had the re-drilling done, I had to get it done up to a level of a hundred and twenty feet below the original level of the well. And we are still continuing our sit ins and protests against these people, that’s what’s going on. I have one bigha4 adjoining the factory boundary. And water used to seep out from that boundary wall and it used to come into my field and because of that all the crops that I used to sow, all of them used to be destroyed. Not a simple crop used to grow. Now they are dumping their water outside [the village] but their
1 2

The new area where the pipeline sends polluted water. Meherunnisa, Mehandiganj, April 2nd, 2004. 3 District Magistrate 4 20 bissas= 1 bigha, 27 Bissas=1 acre

29

Mehandiganj Village. 2004.1 Mattaiilal said that because the land has been made barren from the polluted water. so it will be another two years for these villages. Even until now they are refusing to give up that land. village Pradhans were bribed and so the movement cannot go very far right now. And we have become fed up of this company.000 or 1500 rupees of seed money a year.pollution is going on there as well. This splitting in the movement will be covered in even further detail in the Issues in the Resistance Movement chapter. the pipeline leads to the border between Bhikaripur village and Bengalipur village. and its going from here is the only solution to this problem. The new pipeline is no replacement for his ruined land. 30 . he wastes 1. Furthermore. Many people in Bhikaripur and Bengalipur oppose the plant but just as it happened in Mehandiganj. So there are many damages that are resulting from this company. Since it took two years before the farmers of Mehandiganj saw an affect on their land from the polluted water. 1 Mattaiilal. April 2nd. the pipeline does nothing but lead the polluted water to another village. To be exact. And they have also forcibly illegally occupied the land belonging to Gram Sabha. He explained that the biggest problem in the fields now is that the land where the water has touched will not yield any crops.

3 It is also true that toxic waste was given to the farmers as fertilizer. Patel responded that] it was like an epidemic of vomiting and diarrhea. mango buds refuse to grow on mango trees. Polluted water from the plant has spread in the fields of the farmers over an area of at least 50 acres. March 15th 2004. After a protest outside the Mehandiganj bottling plant. The Farmers of Mehandiganj took the waste 1 2 This photograph was taken by Lok Samiti and used with their permission. Neha: Has the report about it come out yet? No it hasn’t come out yet. mosquitoes have spread everywhere and due to the air pollution caused by them people have faced a lot of problems. The fever used to take months to cure. but these stocks will not yield any rice grains. Neha2: And what about the mango’s? We read in the newspaper that the mango orchards were damaged? In the mango orchards. the land is becoming barren. the crops of chick peas and peas and wheat have all been destroyed. Approximately 20 acres of farm land have been affected this way. the company gave the farmers their toxic waste and told them it would work very well as fertilizer. From the look of it. Neha works for a socio-political magazine called “Dustuk. [And what impact has this had on the farms? You were telling us that the patty crop is growing but not yielding any grain?] Wherever the water from the plant has flown in the farms. People used to have fevers and things like that. As mentioned earlier. but in our village very few mango trees bore fruit. 3 Ram Narayan Patel. Naya Sama Ki” (Knocking of a new time) and once wrote an article about coca cola and Mehandiganj. The land becomes infertile. Neha: So you don’t know what people have to say about this.Above: Damaged paddy crops from the plants polluted water. and so do the buffalo’s. After my initial interview questions she helped me a great deal by asking clever follow-up questions. it seems that the patty crop will be very good but when the crop ripens you find that it has no grains in it. So much so that even the patty crop has been hurt. the hay that was produced after the crops has become polluted so the oxen refuse to eat it. Nothing can be grown there after that. Due to the polluted water. Secondly. First of all the harvest size is reduced. And by looking at the paddy stocks you will think that the harvest is very good. Many such patients went to the city to get treated. Mehandiganj Village.1 Ram Narayan Patel also discussed the problems of the company: Ever since the coca cola company has come here all of us including farmers and villagers are facing a lot of problems. That is why the harvest size has gone down. 31 . [When asked to tell more about the illnesses caused by the pollution. Last year the mango crop was very good everywhere else. Neha: So once you people took the garbage from the coca cola plant and put it into your farms as fertilizer? Yes we did that. I met her through my advisor and she accompanied me to Mehandiganj my first time going. right? No. due to which mango orchards. The cattle are not able to eat this hay until we give them hay and animal fodder in the ration of one to two. Coca Cola also tried this with Keralan farmers.

This is the result. When I brought that trash and spread it into my fields. Varanasi.1 Mattaiilal also spoke about the waste: That dirty trash that came out of the factory. And due to this big damage is caused to the crops. Mehandiganj Village. while discussing the protest movement. Mehandiganj Village. March 15th 2004. Earlier we used to obtain only twelve or thirteen quintals per hector and now we get 50 to 60 quintals per hector of harvest. This “fertilizer” not only killed the crops but also made the land infertile. Patel added more information about the fertilizer: And they brought the leftover garbage and mud to us saying that we should use this as fertilizer for our farms. Varanasi. Neither were there pumping sets. farming in general has changed due to new technology. But because of this Coca cola factory the salt content of the soil has increased by 10 times. This chart provides information about the farmers. I found that wherever I did that even the big tree withered away and the crops were destroyed.3 The only report which has come out about pollution is the one done by Lok Samiti when the District Magistrate asked for proof that pollution was harming the fields. They said it will work as fertilizer. There is no shortage of technology now. Earlier. translated from Hindi to English. And the harvest used to be pretty low. The farmer of today practices agriculture based on technology. You know what the fertilizer did? Wherever we put it. Mataiilal.2 Aside from the presence of the bottling plant. Mehandiganj Village. 2004. 3 P. As Patel stated. They brought this garbage and piled it by the roadside saying that it will work as excellent fertilizer. April 2nd. there was no technology or fertilizers available. And our harvest will increase if we do so.which they honestly believed to be fertilizer and used it on their crops. even the trees withered away. April 2nd 2004. which crops were affected by water pollution and how much money was lost 1 2 Ram Narayan Patel.P Gupta. no official report has come out about this and the bottling company has not been charged with doing this. And plants just don’t grow. There was a mango tree and a jack fruit tree and both of them withered away when we put the fertilizer in the roots. they told us to put it into our fields as fertilizer. Later in the interview. 32 . The presence of the bottling plant makes farming even more complicated: These days the average farmer grows cash crops.

Name of Farmer Raj Narayan Ram Suchit Mattaiilal Rajendra Narayan etc.000 orchards 1-4= Mango 1-4. farmers still continue to lose money because areas of land where they used to grow crops are still ruined.000 Wheat All five 100. Jug Narayan etc. It should be noted that the results from the chart have worsened because it was not until July 2003 that the company built a pipeline to dispose of the polluted water. Fathers Name Kelari Sahadev Mongru Ram Lakhan Farm Number 2338 2639b 2269 2647 2428 2429 2430 2469 2460 2460 2303 2304 2305 2290 2291 2292 2293 2324 2630 2631 Area 380 Ares 16 Ares 320 Ares 248 Ares 30 Ares 231 Ares 305 Ares 121 Ares 125 Ares 25 Ares 24 Ares 69 Ares 409 Ares 214 Ares 551 Ares 214 Ares 210 Ares Crop/s Damage/loss in Rupees Paddy. Before July it was still dumped into the fields and the farms were still severely damaged. 2.due to the pollution. Ramnat etc. 25. thus money that would have come from those harvests are lost.000 Paddy. Technically.100.wheat Paddy. Nihor Shitala Parsed 7.000 harvest Mango orchards Mango 20. DayaRam etc. 3.000 Orchards 5-7= peas chick 5-7.wheat 40. Blank areas mean that there was insufficient information found in one week’s time. Sahdev Payag 20. This is an unofficial report from May 2003.50. 6.000 33 . Makundi etc. “Following is the description of the damage sustained by the Farmers and their Compensation” Serial # 1. 30.000 5. 4.000 chickpeas Paddy.

8. 9. 10. 11.

Lallan Mohan etc. Surindra Narayan Pushpa Devi

Ram 2275 Dular Nikhiwddi Hari Shankar 2455 2456 2457

352 Ares

Plant nursery Mango orchards

20,000

50,000

TOTAL: Rupees 365,000

While walking from one village to the next it was pointed out which plants and trees had been ruined. The mango trees indeed looked bad as well as the paddy. The woman leading the way explained to us that this was her land. She talked of how the mango trees do not usually bloom mangoes anymore and if they do happen to bloom, then the mangoes are not good enough to be eaten or sold. Similarly, she stated that the arihar (dal) crops and mahua have not grown properly ever since the polluted water has touched them. She further explains:
All this land belongs to me. All this land which is where you have the arihar (dal) crops and wheat and mango’s and mahua. The plants are not even yielding a single fruit. They were emitting their water into my land and one time we threatened to pelt them with rocks. Then they turned the water off. But since the water of that place has come into the field, nothing is growing ever since. And they also throw their useless bottles into my field and one day I picked up all these bottles and threw them back into their campus.1

Some village women also complained of a gas emitted from the factory. It is unclear whether they are talking about an actual gas or the smell of the polluted water. One woman explained that “the gas was such bad smelling that when you sat down to eat

1

Woman in Mehandiganj Village, March 15th, 2004.

34

you felt like throwing up. While going to the market and while coming back from there we used to walk with our mouths covered.”2 Another issue with the bottling plant is regarding their use of electricity. Instead of a regular electricity connection the factory runs on two huge generators that each use 360 liters of fuel an hour and cause a loud noise throughout the village. In many parts of the village the noise of the power fueled water pump can also be heard. Using generators over electricity does not save them any money, so it is more a sign of their apathy. The twenty four hour generator makes a loud sound throughout many sections of the village. The fourth main issue is regarding employment. When Coca Cola bought the Parle Company and came to Mehandiganj they promised to give permanent jobs to at least seventy five percent of the villagers. There are 10,000 people currently living in the Mehandiganj area and yet only 60-70 of them have jobs at the plant. These jobs are not permanent jobs but ones of contract labor. Contract laborers keep their jobs for three months on average though some have managed to keep their jobs for longer. During his interview, Shri Narayan Patel also discussed how coca Cola has cause tension within the village and the workers.
And the coca cola company after having come here pitted workers against each other, and they pitted the villagers against each other. When some people were working in the plant, they put up some demands which were not met so they organized a sit in and they took out a protest march. So the company fired them and hired their opponents. They were demanding better livelihood saying that we should get a fair wage because the company used to deduct five or ten rupees from each workers wage every day, saying that we will give you this money back in the form of either a bonus or a pension fund. But they didn’t give anything like that in the entire year. So when these people demanded their bonus they fired them and hired the other side. They said to the other group of people “come on, we’ll hire you, and we’ll fire the other people.” So if you do that in a village, that is natural to cause friction in the social set up. As a consequence the villagers fought each other. Because the Coca cola company made them fight. At least forty persons were on one side and sixty or seventy persons on the other side. They had to submit a bail bond in the court before they could be released. Neha: So the villagers physically fought each other? Yes a physically fight. And the police intervened. And all the people had to submit bail money. And the law suit went on and it is still going on. Now the company says “you guys
2

Woman in Mehandiganj Village, March 15th, 2004.

35

work it out among yourselves. It is your problem.” The coca cola company has said to both parties bluntly that it is their problem and they will have to work it out by themselves. So now you see, this is the kind of friction they have caused here.1

NandaLal Master, Mehandiganj resident and activist (head of National alliance of Peoples movements in the U.P area, leader of Lok Samiti2 continues on this topic:
When these big companies come to a village, they promise that they will give a lot of jobs to the villagers. And that they will provide employment to the maximum amount of people possible in the village. Similarly, when this company came here it promised to hire the maximum possible number of people from the village. But it did not give permanent employment to any of the local people. So when the workers working in the plant agitated against this system and kept the plant non functioning for a whole week and they occupied the plant for an entire week, so what happened after that was that when the company realized that they can’t get away with it they had people break into the plant from the backside. And they brought the workers from the outside through this backdoor entry and started their work. And they pitted the workers who were organizing the sit-in in front of the plant against each other. They divided them into two groups and created animosity between the groups.3

I have interviewed three workers from the coca cola plant who are residents of Mehandiganj village. They live farther in a different section than those agitating against the plant. At first they were nervous to talk, worried that this could be used against them and they could lose their jobs. I assured them that I would not use their names and that this was not intended to be used against them. They all first explained that they needed to do this line of work because they each have many kids4. Then the first man said:
What I have to say is, that I’m just one person from the village working there, but if the whole village is being damaged because of my working there than I’ll quit that job. But I don’t see what I can do if the whole village is suffering on my account because I could be facing that problem too.5

When Neha asked, what if the villagers were given jobs? The second man said:
How many persons can the company possibly give jobs to? The population of the village is 3,000, [actually there are 10,000] how many jobs can the company possibly give. Forty nine or fifty people are working there.6
1 2

Ram Narayan Patel, Mehandiganj Village, March 15th, 2004. Collective Peoples Committee 3 Nandalal Master, Mehandiganj Village, March 15th, 2004. 4 Although that was said before the tape started running. 5 Anonymous Coca Cola Worker 1, Mehandiganj, March 15th 2004 6 Anonymous Coca cola worker 2, Mehandiganj, March 15th 2004

36

1 The second man added in: Whatever water is going into the plant is going from under the ground. Following this I asked what these men did for jobs before working for the bottling plant. Mehandiganj. and they all answered that they were weavers of Benarsi Sari’s. most of 1 2 Anonymous Coca Cola Worker 1. Groundwater will be extracted from the villagers’ land regardless of whether people are given jobs or not. Part of the reason he was needed for four or five months at a time is due to the lowering in demand of Benarsi silk and part is due to the often manipulative relationship between master weaver and workers. If this goes on then our wives and children will face problems four years from now. therefore he was under the rules of someone else. I asked him if most of the coca cola workers were once weavers and his reply was that yes.3 By this statement he means that he was working for a master weaver. then the first man replied: Yea suppose the company gives jobs to everyone. What I mean to say is that suppose there was a water shortage here at any time.when material or Sari’s were needed than these men would make them. otherwise throughout the rest of the year they were left with no work.2 Therefore both men have acknowledged that even if the plant gives jobs. the core problems will still be occurring. March 15th 2004 37 . He worked on the basis of contract labor. even if the plant modifies itself in that way. Mehandiganj. The same water will come into our wells. The only problem is that in that line of work you get work only for four or five months a year. then the same problem will happen again. March 15th. but just suppose they did give jobs to everyone. yet this problem can come up again.When she asked. March 15th. Mehandiganj. 2004 Anonymous Coca Cola Worker 2. 2004 3 Anonymous Coca Cola Worker 1. Neha asked if they did not find this work profitable. After four or five months you are forced to work at something else. and man 1 answered: No it was profitable of course.

38 . Shyamal Yadav. So when we began to protest. Mehandiganj Village. Mehandiganj Village. When we were released we came back and we tried our best to work here but they did not re-hire us. 4 Shyamlal Yadav. Two of the lawsuits are still going on. And they had got four of the people arrested and they have again got an arrest warrant issued for these four people. etc. 2004.1 Only 120 days. March 15th. It is common in India for companies to use contract labor so as to avoid giving benefits to the workers. they started giving us a bonus. They used to make a worker work for two or four days and then fire him without giving him any money. After that someone else will do that job.4 He also discussed the issue of pay: 1 2 Anonymous Coca Cola worker #1. We began opposing this. He began working there by carrying bricks and doing other such jobs to build the factory. We get a bail and then for the next eight or nine months the case goes on. One is under section 107/163 And they always harass us using this section. they began blaming us for one thing or the other and then they launched a fake law suit against us. March 15th 2004. then they are arrested under this law. On the following eighth there will be a hearing for this case. They had us arrested on charges of fighting with the security guards. After that.2 The Coca Cola Company uses this method of three month contract labor so as to free themselves of the obligation of labor rights benefits. Though their jobs have changed they still have not escaped the pattern of contract labor. Anonymous Coca Cola worker #2. It should be noted that this is not just done by multinational companies but by many Indian companies too. 3 Covers physical fights or when someone violates peace. Only three months of work do not qualify for labor rights. Even at the present time they have registered a case under 107/16 against eleven people. Once the factory was built the company hired the laborers and soon after began exploiting them.them were. and we were arrested and kept inside the prison at Chauka Ghat for a week. Another worker. After every two or four months. After you have worked for 120 days someone else will replace you. The rule is for 120 days. March 15th 2004. they lodge a complaint against us under this section and then we have to go for bail whether we like it or not. began working at the plant when Coca Cola bought it from Parle.

The two other men who were present each still work for the company but agreed that if the entire village wanted them to quit then they would. 39 . They had singled out all the persons who spoke out on behalf of the workers and there were about 11 or 12 of us like that. That’s not the way that I think. Then they began giving us bonuses. and then we staged a whole lot of sit-ins and protests and we took the support of the Samajwadi2 Party and we staged dozens of sit-ins and protests. 2004. When we were working there they were paying us 63 rupees per day. He then argued that Shyamlal Yadav should either speak for or against the company. 3 Shyamlal Yadav. Then Shymalal Yadav began explaining that he would like to go to the protests but that he does not go due to the companies restraining order on him. He pointed out that Shymlal Yadav was speaking against the company but would still work there if he had the chance. Another man agreed with him saying that the restraining order makes it so that they cannot go. we blocked the path of the car of the general manager of the company in pursuit of our demands. and we demanded to be paid that amount and we fought a long battle. Then they began deducting the provident (pension) fund from our wages on a regular basis. When we found out from the labor court that the government minimum wage was rupees 68 and 38 pesa. I don’t believe that simply because I got a job. March 15th. So they began to give us 68 rupees 38 pesa per day. Whether the company makes suitable 1 2 Minimum wage Socialist. I don’t think that if the company hurts or damages anyone or anything then I have no objection to that. And this happened two or three times.3 During this interview another man interrupted and asked what was being recorded. So first they began fighting the workers and we became agitated. When they kicked out these people then these people got a bad image but inside the company the exploitation went on as before. So slowly we came to know that the government rate was higher. We began to work for the company again. Then there was a man who was the most vocal of all and they fired him on charges of sleeping on duty when in fact he was not even on duty on that day. Whoever could answer back to them. And similarly they began to fire each one of us by accusing us of one thing or the other. they would get them out. that it is not possible to do both.If you look at the government rate of workers wages1 it is at least 72 to 75 rupees per day. my entire village should live a life of darkness. The party people came here and we had sit-ins many times and then we were re-instated. For example. And then the company singled us out as political leaders of the workers and they made up their minds to fire us. One man said: Look.

Suppose we were for just a short period.0003 on stamp duty. But if they won’t then what can I possibly do? No one can do anything alone. If everyone loses then we also lose. then we would stand to lose also. because a law suit was placed on them by the Gram Panchayat for this illegal land occupation.arrangements or not is none of my business. In 1995 Parle began constructing its factory in Mehandiganj Village.1 And the second men: My point is that the damage that the company is causing to the village is not a good thing. land and company they cheated the revenue department of Rs. But the fact is that the damage this drink is causing to people who drink it is not our business. When Coca Cola bought the plant. It’s good that we have jobs and we are earning livelihoods. along GT road. their ambivalence shows that they themselves may be conflicted. The court ordered them to repay this amount and an equal amount as a fine but has yet to pay the entire 1 2 Anonymous Coca Cola Worker ibid. Our point is that if because of the presence of the company. The last main issue is regarding land. In any case. It’s good that we’ve got jobs there. If everyone cooperates then I too will cooperate.75. But if everyone is being hurt by just one man getting a job and earning a living then it would be better if that man doesn’t have that job at all. What will we gain by working for the company for just a short period? 2 There is ambivalence in all of the men in this interview and these men’s’ statements do not always seem consistent. and then get fired. They are glad to have jobs to earn a livelihood yet they realize that the company is not good for the village or to its workers. while the law suit was still going on. 3 1 crore. 75 thousand rupees 40 . Parle sold the entire company to Coca Cola. then that will cause problems to us too right? Seeing all this it would be better if the company doesn’t stay here at all. 1. Then in 1999. the village suffers from water shortage and other things. Part of the area where the plant would be in operation was being built on Gram Sabha Land. It is hard to tell how their answers may have changed due to the fact that I was there and that a member of Lok Samiti was there. 50 lakh.50. Moreover they do not have a solution to this predicament and are not sure about figuring one out. This is why Parle never began producing consumer goods.

They feel that it makes their journey to the main road a more challenging one. The bottling plant was actually built on part of the Chak Road. Following the building of the plant and the loss of their Chak Road. making it so that if villagers were to take that road out then it would be considered trespassing. Chak Roads exist in villages to provide a route from the village to the main road and from sections of the village to other sections of the village so as to make the route smoother and quicker. however. it should be noted that the contradictions mentioned will be explored in the chapter titled “Issues within Resistance” The main contradiction that will be explored is: What is the truth behind this land occupation that is being spoken of and what is the truth behind the alleged bribing of the village Pradhan? How does this relate to the splitting in the village? Due to the splitting in the village. Despite lobbying by activists and the court order. the villagers by the plant could have walked forward and reached G. To conclude this chapter. the government has not done much to make them pay what they owe. what are some of the problems in the resistance movement? 41 . This contradiction will also be explored later in the people.amount.T Road in a short amount of time. they expected that a new Chak road would be made for them. They also say that it makes celebrations such as weddings more difficult to have since people have to walk more of a distance to come. If they trespassed then criminal charges would follow. There is a contradiction. Another land issue is that of Chak Roads. They also have not further pursued the fact that the plant is built on Panchayat land. Such a road was never built and women especially complain about the absence of this road. Before the bottling plant came. in that villagers claim that the head of the village took bribe money and also sold the land. So then how can this be considered an illegal land occupation? Land occupation is when land is occupied by force.

The amount of pesticides in each drink far exceeded the European Standards set by the European Economic Commission (EEC).Pesticides in Coca Cola and other cold drinks: In August 2003. a Delhi NGO.S to regulate food and drinks. a report by the Center for Science and Environment (CSE). used in the U.N and U. Following this report the 42 . came out with reports showing pesticides in all Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola made cold drinks on the Indian market.

cse. exceeding EEC limits by 1. They also stated that “each sample had enough poison to cause.in the long term. What remains the same. Chlorpyriphos was present in 100% of the samples and exceeded the limit in 75% of the samples by 3. DDT and metabolites were present in 58% of samples.24.4 times. is that both results clearly show pesticides in the drink and Coca Cola Co. CSE found that all samples contained residues of lindane. February 12th 2004 <www. For one.8 the EEC limit.org/html/press -releases/press_20030805_1.9 to 7. Two 1 Central Food Laboratory At Central Food Technological Institute.2” CSE also found that the total pesticides in Coca-Cola brands on average were 0. birth defects and severe disruption of the immune system. Mysore. CSE says. the seasons were different and secondly the way in which they were tested was different.” www.cancer. <http//www. 2003.cse. The government found pesticides in these drinks as well but not to as high of a degree as CSE.government also tested soft drinks for pesticides. damage the nervous and reproductive systems. DDT. The conclusion of CFL1 is that Lindane is present in 100 percent of the samples and exceeded the EEC limit by 1.” August 14th. This large difference in results is unclear. still say that their drinks are perfectly healthy to drink. Coca cola was found to have four times the amount of pesticides than the EEC limits in the CFL laboratory. The government analysis was done at the Central Food Laboratory at Central Food Technological Research Instititute in Mysore. malathion and chlorpyrifos. CSE offers several reasons for this difference in data. yet either way. on August 14th.htm.8-1. 2003.0150 mg/l which is 36 times higher than the EEC limit.org> 2 “Hard Truths About Soft Drinks. and Pepsi Co. “Report of Analysis of Pesticide Residues in Soft Drink Samples sent by Directorate General of Health Services. and thirty six times the amount in the CSE laboratory.cse. Center For Science and Environment.org> 43 .1-1. both laboratories both show results of pesticides being higher than EEC standards. August 5th 2003. New Delhi to CFL.

Both acts were implemented to regulate the contents in beverages but said nothing about regulating pesticides in soft drinks. companies have the power to use polluted water because there are no such water regulations. the company used the media to promote their drinks on a much larger scale than before. CSE states that in 2001. This means that along with a companies license comes a certificate from the local government. the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act was implemented as well as the Fruit Products Order. Companies can use the surrounding environment however they please because no environmental impact assessments are ever done. The Food Products Order has standards for lead and arsenic that are fifty times higher than those allowed in bottled water.S soft drink brands were tested by PML and no pesticides were found. Coke has said that if their drinks did have anything dirty in them it was due to polluted groundwater. without ever analyzing the products or the groundwater used to make drinks. The main response of the Coca Cola Company to these reports has been an allegation that they must be false. something that could not be changed.U. 1 ibid. and water analysis board. Indians consumed over 6. In the CSE report1 they explained that in 1955. state pollution control board. To even further convince the public to keep drinking Coke. They claimed that the drinks were still fit to drink and criticized India’s laboratories as being not advanced enough to test for pesticides. This second part of this claim is false because it is possible to purify water. They began to air more commercials with sports and bollywood stars showing that Coke was still fit to drink. Thus.500 million cold drinks. The sector is also exempted from the provisions of industrial licensing under the Industries Development and Regulation Act of 1951. 44 .

an activist from the city of Varanasi further explained this (translated from Hindi to English) at an anti-coca cola rally in Lanka. If some people have the tendency to follow what is presented to them in the media.” This is the mindset which most people acquired and they thought that these people were right and we don’t have labs like that in India. Varanasi. the film stars and sports stars. They said “we have had our products tested in various laboratories in the developed countries and our products are ok. But the fact is that the parliamentary committee report that has come out says that our labs are more technically advanced than the labs abroad where the products were tested. Aishwaria Rai. They took the excuse that the laboratories of our country are not advanced enough to test their products. You should drink it because we have had it tested abroad. Most television shows present very light skinned and wealthy families who use modern appliances and eat and drink modern consumer goods. You have no knowledge that’s why you have stopped drinking it.Jagriti Rahi. then commercials with bollywood and cricket stars telling the public what to believe may manipulate them to choose the side of coca cola and to keep on drinking it.” And after that our new celebrities. One commercial that is often aired shows a male 1 Speech is in Hindi but she uses the word “advanced” in English. They told us that if we were not drinking these drinks or if we had given up drinking Pepsi or Coke because of these reports then we were fools or extremely backward. The commercials depict these same types of people and present goods to the public that symbolize a contemporary lifestyle. The scientists of our country cannot be intelligent enough so that we could trust their reports. and you are not “advanced”1. began advertising this product one after the other. promoting Coca cola in a small Varanasi shop In India the media is a very powerful tool. 45 . Advertisement of famous Bollywood actress. They are fit to drink.

that it is hip and modern. Most of these movements avow to base themselves on Gandhian ideologies of non-violent protest and village self rule. Some non-government schools began to ban soft drinks on their own but the government made no action to ban these drinks from their schools. Resistance and Action: Background: In response to both the problems caused by the bottling plants in the villages and to the pesticides issue. This is the mood of the thumbs up drink as well as Coke and other Coca Cola made drinks. the only ban that they made was in their own canteen. The Gandhian movement in India works for the rural poor and for the building a decentralized. As soon as they heard that cold drinks contained high amounts of pesticides. large resistance movements have been emerging in the villages and the cities.bollywood star drinking a thums up with several young fashionable women circling around him smiling and laughing while rock music is playing in the background. The only response of the government to the pesticide reports was that they banned Coca Cola and all other cold drinks from the parliament canteen. self-sufficient and just social order. Clearly this shows that they agree with the Center for science and environment reports. This movement is deep rooted in history and is the backbone of the anti-coca cola 46 .

movement in India. negatively affecting the lives of villagers. all of its members are linked together in their rejection of globalization. communists and those following Gandhian thought. All of these things are components of the globalization process and NAPM rejects globalization because though it benefits the government and those who are “feeling good. but members of NAPM refer to globalization in terms of its harmful affects on their communities and land. This 47 . Yes. Throughout India. It also means the turning of the governments shoulder when multinational companies commit destructive acts. For example. the agitations are all based upon Gandhian thought. globalization is a broad term and is often thrown around. many different movements along these lines are interconnected as one common struggle and are titled The National Alliance of Peoples movements (NAPM). All the movements share the common theme of how globalization is affecting indigenous and poor communities.” it does not benefit the poor communities. building a world bank funded damn on the Narmada has dislocated many indigenous people from living along the river to moving to city slums though mig multinational water companies have made huge profits. Though NAPM is made up of socialists. Though NAPM is made up of a variety of political ideologies. Besides the example of Kerala. Coca cola bottling plants have killed land and caused severe water pollution. They also perceive it to be a threat to a socially-just society in that it benefits those who do the developing and hurts those living in the “developing” area. All of the coca-cola protests are referred to as “Peaceful Gandhian protests” and involve the practice of Gandhian non-violent resistance. Taking World Bank loans often mean the cutting of government funding for local communities when attempting to repay debt. The NAPM is made up of movements ranging from Save the Narmada Struggle Committee to anti-Coca cola movements to anti river linking movements. the government has looked the other way.

Lok Chetana Samiti promotes village empowerment at a grassroots level. this organization accepts no foreign funding and believes in doing everything at a grassroots level. Before the discussion. and Lok Chetana Samiti. Every morning workers sit in the main office and each person discusses what he or she has done the day before. According to the brochure cover. This NGO was put into action by a Keralan woman named Lily Bhehen who hoped to put a great deal of focus on women’s empowerment. Many NGO’s and grassroots parties are a part of the coca cola movement. The women’s organization.” The organization has two main parts. Lok Samiti (Peoples council) and 48 . it was not until Lok Chetana Samiti and their local branch Lok Samiti came to the villagers that they were empowered to strengthen their protest against the bottling plant. passages written by Gandhi are read and a prayer is sung that is not affiliated with any religion. In fact. the Ghandian idea of village self-rule. The NGO’s involved in this movement who are also working in rural development follow Gandhian principles as well. Sajha Sanskriti Manch (joint cultural forum). as the workers are of various religions.form of non violent protest is called Satyagraha.Samjwadi Jan Parishad (a grassroots socialist council). especially with the creation of panchayat samiti’s. from Muslim to Christian to Hindu. One village that happens to be in their arena of work is Mehandiganj and so they have helped support the anti-Coca Cola movement. Unlike many other NGO’s in Varanasi. They have offices at five different locations in rural Varanasi and each block works with about 80 sections of villages. an art inspirational forum. which literally means insistence on truth. Lok Chetana Samiti “is a registered organization that works for social as well as structural change in favor of the poor and the marginalized.

5.Mahila Chetana Samiti (Women’s council). a group specifically for women. The Lok Chetana Samiti organization as runs programs to address a variety of issues. legal awareness. capacity building. Formation of Self help groups. Mahila Chetana Samiti. leadership training. Mass education and formation of public opinion. the best way to explain Lok Samiti is through the brochures description as it is stated most poignantly: The building of village communities through the formation of people’s organizations called Lok Samiti. These organizations are expected to emerge as a moral force. Ensuring greater participation of women and other weaker sections of society in panchayat (Gandhian idea of local self government. seminars. for strengthening economic power and self dependence. 2. The programs will be explained as to provide a background of how the Lok Samiti in Mehandiganj came to be and what ideologies it is built upon. building village communities through formation of Lok Samiti and Mahila Chetana Samiti. At a larger level in collaboration with other village organizations they are expected to emerge as a people’s movement. conventions. and other awareness building programs. etc. 4. Organizing training programs and short courses on relevant topics on social analysis. human rights. These programs include: (again taken from brochure) 1. 1 Lok Chetana Samiti’s Brochure 49 .1 In Mehandiganj. study circles. Mahila Chetana Samiti’s are separate women’s organizations that take part in various forms of women empowerment and examine social issues from women’s perspectives. development. is also involved. asserting and exercising their collective power in the decision making process of their own villages. the Lok Samiti is leading the local anti-coca cola struggle without much direct help from Lok Chetana Samiti. capable of influencing the policy making of the nation in favor of the poor and weaker sections of society.) 3. Though both groups have been interviewed.

which is not the case of all Varanasi NGO’s. taking up issues that affect the lives of villagers. caste conflicts. Nandalal. It is plastered with signs against Coca Cola and quotes and pictures of Gandhi.6. Rather. In this last case Mehandiganj is a village in one of the five blocks where they work and so Lok Chetana Samiti has taken up the issue of the Coca Cola factory and supported the movement. it is not as though this NGO is controlling the movement. it is Lok Samiti that has done most of the work. In this way. In one room. but in regards to protesting the plant and the government. asserting and exercising their collective power both locally and nationally.providing community legal services and conflict resolution for village disputes through “lok adalats’(settlements of disputes by the parties themselves with community and Samiti participation either in the village or office. human rights violations. The Local Movement In a section of Mehandiganj village is a small three room building with a sign on the outside that reads “Lok Samiti” in Hindi. 8. Inside this area is where the planning of the movement takes place. This includes family disputes. 7. piles of documents and photographs related to the 50 . Therefore. a resident of the village. Research activities to help peoples movements. the brochure description seems to be the truth of the situation. social justice. Non formal education (that also teaches about the society critically) and literacy programs especially for girls. are working in this movement without much direct help from Lok Chetana Samiti. Legal entitlement programs. The leader of the Lok Samiti in Mehandiganj is Nandalal Master (interviewed earlier). Lok Samiti has emerged as a moral force. they are acting as a form of support and helping out when they needed. crimes on women and crimes on Dalits. along with other members of Lok Samiti Mehandiganj. especially human rights. communal harmony and civic issues. The larger organization supports the movement and has helped with research.

And we had planned that on this day we would buy Coke and Pepsi bottles and empty their contents in front of the district headquarters as a symbolic protest against globalization. Before Lok Samiti was in the picture. When I mentioned this to the villagers and asked for their participation against globalization. because we had a coca cola plant in our village itself. the farmers had formed a group to protest the plant but had not named themselves officially. 51 . whether it is writing letters to the government. we had planned to celebrate an anti-globalization day every tenth May in front of the headquarters of the district administration of whichever district we reside in. and our crops are getting ruined. complaining about how our farms are being ruined by the polluted water from the company. Lok Samiti is the local organization of the organization1 that works for the interest of the villages and the Lok Samiti is also a constituent of the NAPM. And I decided that instead of doing this in front of the district headquarters. or planning agitations. going to the district headquarters to see the district magistrate. I had only heard about the problems but not actually seen them with my own eyes because even though I live in that village I had not been there for some time and had not worked there for a length of time. Lok Samiti became a part of the movement in May 2003 and right away began strengthening the movement by mobilizing the farmers and other villagers. Shri Narayan Patel is a leader of the Goun Bachao Sangatan Samiti (Save the village struggle committee). and the NAPM is made up of 350 such constituent organizations and both Lok Samiti and people like Aflatoon etc. In September 2003 they gave themselves a name and along with Lok Samiti they have been working at the local level to shut the bottling plant down. Before Lok Samiti became a part of this movement. had been active in this movement even before the pesticide report came out in July 2003.” Then we of the Benaras Lok Samiti decided that we should stand by these villagers and their fight against the company and then we conducted a survey about the problems and only then did we find out about the movement which the farmers had been carrying on for so long against the company…Before the villages of Mehandiganj informed me about the problems that they were facing in the company. The difference between the two groups is that Lok Samiti 1 The organizations name is Lok Chetana Samiti and will be discussed later in the chapter. Every day members of Lok Samiti work on the movement. they said “you are going to empty Coke in front of the plant on tenth may whereas we here are facing so many problems due to this company and we have staged sit-ins and protests and have also met the district magistrate in this regard. I would do it with my companions in front of the coca cola bottling plant in my village. they are always at work.movement are stored. These documents range from letters written to the president of India. This is an unregistered organization with a specific focus to the Coca Cola crisis. to unofficial reports on the destruction of crops from pollution.

Ibid. even the trees withered away. God knows what he did. Then finally. A large protest took place in front of the bottling plant and the people were full of energy. 2 Ram Narayan Patel. There was a mango tree and a jack fruit tree and both of them withered away when we put the fertilizer in the roots. We have been working in this for the last two years since the time they set up the plant here1 and we starting facing problems. and Goun Bachao Sangarsh Samiti was created specifically because of the problems being faced in the village and by the farmers due to the bottling plant. The correct year is around 2002 though he might have meant that they opposed the plant from the time it was set up. but still he didn’t listen to us.covers a variety of issues (though it is true that now the coca cola movement is their main focus).2 The first organized protest that took place by Lok Samiti and Goun Bachao Sangarsh Samiti was on May 10th 2003. They brought this garbage and piled it by the roadside saying that it will work as excellent fertilizer. First of all we gave a petition to the district magistrate about the polluted water from the plant. we sent a petition to the president of India saying that if nothing is done about this then we will sit down for a long sit in. After 48 hours we had a sit in. Then we repeated this process again. March 15th 2004. but no one did anything. May 10th 2003 Protest in front of the bottling plant3 Mahila Chetana Samiti at the May 10th 2004 protest4 1 Correction: He said two years and also since the time the plant was set up. Then we people created this organization and after that we organized sit ins and protest marches and whatever it took. This sit in went on for twelve to fifteen days and during this time the company at least extracted the polluted water from the farms using a pump.) 3 4 Both photos taken by Lok Samiti and used with their permission. So much so that we also sent petitions to the national chiefs of all the national parties. but nothing happened as result. We gave them 48 hours notice. You know what the fertilizer did? Wherever we put it. then we petitioned the chief minister of the state and also the governor of the state. 52 . And they brought the leftover garbage and mud to us saying that we should use this as fertilizer for our farms.

They gave the villagers a week to get this information back to them. Below is another one of the first letters written by Lok Samiti to an official. the President of India. After one week Lok Samiti handed the information to the District Magistrate. One time an answer was received in November. In the month of May is when Lok Samiti began organizing this movement and also when the intensity of the agitations first began. 53 . For some reason all of the information was unable to be gathered at that time and now almost a year later. and thus is just a glimpse of how water flooding has affected the lives of farmers. when the District Magistrate asked Lok Samiti to provide proof of the damage caused to the village. The Pollution Board. In September the protests grew even more in intensity due to the fact that more villagers had been mobilized and the affects on the village were growing worse. Following is the letter1: 1 Translated from Hindi to English. Varanasi” section.This was just the beginning. Attached to the letter was the chart about the farmers which was provided earlier in the “Coca Cola in Mehandiganj. District Magistrate. It should be noted that the small chart following the letter is incomplete.this letter is written to the Additional District Magistrate. In the month of May Lok Samiti also began submitting complaints to officials such as the local police station. and Douglas Daft of Coca Cola USA. the Additional District Magistrate. The District Magistrate then said that they would get back to them within a month. Nothing was done about this report. the situation is obviously much worse than it was at the time the report was made. These documents have been translated from Hindi to English and are provided so that the reader can better understand how many countless letters and petitions have been written and mostly not responded to. One of the first letters was written on the ninth of May to the President of India. Seven months later nothing has been heard and numerous protests continue to be held.

had a pipe built to dispose of their waste in July 2003 after much lobbying by villagers and outside activists. A Non violent agitation has been undertaken by the ‘Goun Bachao Sangash Samiti Mehandiganj (Mehandiganj save the village struggle committee) for about a fortnight from 10th May. Farmers Affected by Flooded Farms: Name of Farmer: Ram Nat Mattaiilal Prabhunath Son of: Sahadev Mongru Khurghan Amount lost due to Damage Rupees 100. 4) We should get compensation for the crops and orchards destroyed. 7) The tension caused in the village by the layoffs done by coca cola should come to an end. Varanasi Subject: In relation to the compensation and damages of the farmers and the people by the coca cola bottling plant located in the village of Mehandiganj belonging to the country “Kasvar Raja” district. The water should be purified and emitted elsewhere.T road and it should go right up to it. 2) The illegal business of the bones and height of dead animals over there should be closed down 3) There should be action taken on a war footing to eradicate poisonous mosquitoes in the Mehandiganj and surrounding areas. Dear Sir. Additional district Magistrate: (Finance and Revenue).D at 4:00 PM by the residence of Mehandiganj. Therefore.To: Mr. The exploitation of the workers should come to an end and the unemployed in the village should get permanent employment.000 Rupees 50.000 Note: Since we could not get the village records of the farms of these farmers we will furnish this information later Coca Cola Co. Varanasi. In the “Save Our Lives and Property” application sent to his excellence the President on 9th May 2003 A. the Sangarsh Samiti demands compensation for the destroyed crops and orchards of the farmers and presents the copy and list of the village records of the flooded farms of the farmers. This may not have been able to be done without Nandalal and the rest of Lok Samiti.23rd May 2003 regarding the above demands. 5) The illegal occupation of Gram Samaj land in Mehandiganj by Coca Cola should be removed 6) There should be a brick drain joining all the ponds of the village for the exit of the surplus water and this drain should be built along the G. 1) The polluted water of Coca Cola should come to an end. 54 . the following demands have been made.000 Rupees 50.

Mahila Chetna Samiti (ladies awareness committee) and Goun Bachao Sangharsh Samiti (save the village struggle committee). 55 .3 On 25-08-203 the villagers around Mehandiganj had staged a sit-in in front of this office to demand an end to the pollution being caused by the Hindustan Coca Cola Beverage Ltd. leaders of the Institute of Gandhian studies. Established in Mehandiganj. and that we shall ensure the setting up of the people’s court after contacting the hon. 500 people protested in front of the plant. On September 10th 2003. as well as other independent supporters of the movement. District magistrate of Varanasi.K Singh Regional Officer 25/08/03 Nothing was done as quickly as this order had promised and so the villagers continued their protests and demands. 2 Sukhdei. this time with the objective to close it down. March 15th 2004. In the above contract you are being assured on 25-08-2003 that we shall study all the points mentioned in your letter and try our best to solve them. The farmers had demanded that a jan adalat (peoples court) be temporarily set up in this area. Mehandiganj Village. He began swearing at them saying “where the hell is all this water coming from?” The slope of the land is such that the water that they emit goes into our fields. We assured them that we shall solve the problems mentioned in the petition. Only after Master undertook that agitation did the company arrange for an alternative exit for the water. All of the protesters arrived in front of the plant at noon. members from Lok Samiti (peoples council). We didn’t. and were led by 1 The term Master is used for teachers of high positions and Nandalal teaches weaving to children at a village school. 3 Translated from English to Hindi. Samajvadi Jan Parishad (socialist grassroots party). Members of different organizations agitated in this protest. Other agitators included Professors from Benaras Hindu University. Below is the order. (Signature) R. Saajha Sanskriti Manch (joint cultural forum). The farmers informed me about their problems during the sit-in and they also gave a petition. The following order was written up by the regional officer and given to Nandalal.It was Master1 who spoke on our behalf.2 On the eighth of August the villagers had a sit-in in front of the Regional officers office.

Seventy six people were arrested and fourteen people were injured with welts on their bodies. The speaker said that foreign companies are hell bent on upon robbing this country in the name of globalization. They began to run out of fear. One woman from the village who was there at the protest explains: Even these little kids had gone there and when the police started beating us the kids began to wail. 2003. The speakers said that the police had sold out to foreigners and that was why they were wielding sticks. 56 . They demanded the names of the policemen who had been at the protest because the policemen had all taken off their nametags to avoid being reported. pulling there grandmothers and mothers with them. They said that foreign companies who are making people drink poison in the name of cold drinks will have to leave the country. They were carrying signs and chanting slogans as they tried to enter the main gate of the plant. Police and Coca Cola security began beating the crowd with lathi sticks.Sandeep Pandey and Nandalal Master. September 11th. They said that the farming has been ruined by the polluted water and the trash produced by this company and also the groundwater has gone down. out of fear that they will get killed.2 1 2 Woman in Mehandiganj. was taken by Lok Samiti and was used with their permission. Those who were not arrested were enraged about the lathi charges and organized a sit in on the middle of the entrance to the bottling plant.” Danik Jagran. March 15th 2004. “Angry Protesters beaten with sticks in front of Coca cola bottling plant. The Picture on the left of a lathi beating is from the September Protest.1 Those who stayed even after the beatings were arrested. Of course it is understandable that when the police were chasing you with lathi’s what else could you do? The kids began to run.

Those injured and arrested ranged from local villagers to Benaras Hindu University professors to members of the grassroots socialist council. Also on October seventh a report was filed by villages to the police station against coca cola for groundwater extraction. the festival of Vijay Dashmi. From which they informed us that the policemen conducted a lathi charge and later arrested certain office bearers of Saajha Sanskriti Mach on the charge of violating peace. 57 . Varanasi No. The following application2 was given to the local police station on October seventh 2003.After the protesters were released from jail they held a meeting to discuss the future of the movement. The group of the protesters concerned met with the undersigned on 15. the Office Collector and District Magistrate gave the following order1: Office-Collector and District Magistrate. Some of the points in their enquiry are related to the pollution being spread by the factory and encroachment on the Gaon Rabha (Village Assembly).9.23 September 2003 On October fifth to 7th. Mirzamurad District. To investigate the points given in their petition the additional district magistrate (administration) is hereby nominated and he is instructed to present his report after investigating the above episode. Dear Sir. Varanasi. and son on. In response to the September tenth protest. nothing was done. within one week. Date.2003 and they presented a petition calling for an enquiry into certain points. 3443/S-Camp-2003 Order The Saajha Sanskriti Mach (combined culture forum) and other associated organizations organized a protest at the Coca Cola plant situated at Mehandiganj on 10. and the factory has nominated Mr. 7th October 2003 To: The honorable station officer police station. Those who participated made coca cola into the villain on this festival. Again. Rahul Krishna.2003. The Additional District Magistrate (administration) can also collect the testimony of other people during his investigation as and when necessary.9. 2003. Nandalal from their side to cooperate in this investigation. 1 2 Translated from Hindi to English Translated from Hindi to English. The Raajha Ranskin manch has nominated Mr. the burning of a coca cola effigy took place.

The coca cola company is also illegally occupying the land belonging to our graham sabha and also wants to steal more village land in the name of opening a hospital here. if it does not close down then we will indulge in vandalism. leader of the Narmada Bachao Andolan and member of the NAPM1. and wells. we request. In the Mehandiganj village.) Malti. we have our farms. Mr. son of late Mongru Patel. When coca cola company was not in our village. yes absolutely. son on late Hilari. we’ll do it.2 1 2 Save the Narmada Movement. to register our complaint against the coca cola company and take necessary action against it. and Neha. hand pumps. a march began led by Medha Pardkar. Mr. all of us are extremely distraught. Your honor. Malti: She [Mehda Pardkar] had also come here.We. March 15th 2004. son of late Sahadev has a pumping set right next to the companies. Ram Murat Patel. son of Mr. Malti: They rained lathis on women. and the boring drill of my pumping set has burst open. Woman: We’ll do it. we used to get water easily from our wells and tube wells. then we will land people behind the gates via an airplane. 2003. Ramna Patel. This event was to help create awareness about the economic policy of globalization. If the company continues to steal our water in this very fashion. and she said.” Woman: she had also staged a sit in. We saw the scene of eight policemen raining lathis on one woman and dragging her inside. Due to this the water level has gone down by 10-25 feet. “I’ll see how coca cola doesn’t close down. son of Sahadev Patel. On the other hand the company has ruined our three previous harvests completely with its (crash and??) poisonous water and it is spreading pollution. Mattaiilal Patel. tube wells. Raj Narayan Patel. Ram Narayan Patel Ramnat Patel Mithailal Patel Suvas Chandra Patel On October 28th. When we investigated we found that the coca cola company is stealing hundreds of thousands of liters of groundwater form our area through its heavy boring machines. whether we live or die. another woman. and Suvas Chantdra Patel. Therefore. If the company will not open its gates for us. around the coca cola company. the applicants Mr. But since the last five years the water coming out of our tube wells and hand pumps has diminished in quantity. applicant Ramnat Patel. Neha: Will you do it? Women: Yes. (A movement against the Dams built on the Narmada River. So much that I. your honor. 58 . then in the days to come we will have to crave for every single drop of water. Neha: Are you people ready to indulge in vandalism? Women: Yes. All are original inhabitants of the village Mehandiganj police station area Mirzamurad.

2003 Subject: Regarding coca cola bottling plant Dear Sir. It was also in Jaunpur where most villagers found out that Coke and Pepsi were full of pesticides. 11th Nov. To: Sub district magistrate (administration) District Varanasi. Pepsi Co. 3) The company should be forced to free the gram sabha that it is occupying currently. Beneath this letter are many signatures of farmers and villagers. The following1 was given to the sub district magistrate on November 11th. local residents. Please organize a public hearing in line with the supreme courts directive on pollution. and we request you to investigate the following and fulfill our demands: 1) Please cancel the license of the coca cola bottling plant in view of the fact that the above mentioned unit is spreading pollution and milking the groundwater. 2) Please make the company pay appropriate compensation to the farmers and villages affected by pollution. 1 Translated from Hindi to English 59 . 5) Necessary action should be taken against the company for stealing the groundwater underneath the fields of the farmers. and the national alliance of peoples movements. We want to draw your attention to the agitation that is going on under the auspices of affected farmers. 4) The first information report should be lodged against the private security guards and the policemen who attacked the agitators agitating peacefully on 10th September and legal action should be taken against them. is causing similar problems in a Jaunpur village and this was NAPM’s attempt to show the villagers links between the two movements.On the fourth of November the march came to an end in at the Jaunpur Pepsi-Cola bottling plant. Meanwhile more documents were being gathered and sent to authorities as forms of protest. We have the following demands. 2003. Villagers have said that they enjoyed going to Jaunpur.

A public hearing should be organized amidst the people of Mehandiganj Village as per the verdict of the honorable Supreme Court regarding the pollution spread by the coca cola bottling plant. Mahila Chetana Samiti Mehesanji. Varanasi area Dear Sir. and we demand an inquiry into this matter. For the time being. the liquid trash that the coca cola company is dumping into the water that eventually flows in the Ganga should be put a stop to.The next letter1 was sent to the regional pollution officer in reference to a protest that was held outside of the office. The administration should take similar action against the Pepsi cola factory situated in the Satdvaria area the district Jaunpur. Letter to Regional Pollution officer. The fast was led by Nandalal Master and nine other activists took part in it. The date of when this letter was sent and when the protest occurred was in November. U. Samajwadi Jan Parishad Sahhdana Behen. 2. 3. Nandalal. put up the following demands regarding the pollution being spread by the coca cola bottling plant situated in Mehandiganj from October 2002 till now. Yours sincerely. 6. The industry license of this unit should be instantly canceled in light of the pollution they are spreading. women and potters affected by the pollution should be given compensation under the general liability act. 5. From December 12th-16th. Mehandiganj Though the acts were clearly stated. nothing was done to test the waste or to compensate the farmers. Malti. a female resident of the village explains: 1 Translated from Hindi to English 60 . 1. though the exact date is not mentioned. The Farmers. a five day fast took place in front of the bottling plant. 4. We the farmers and women of Mehandiganj and the workers of NAPM protesting in front of your office.P Control board. convener Lok Samiti Aflatoon. The solid and liquid industrial garbage of the above mentioned factory should be tested in a recognized laboratory under the pollution control act. We criticize the granting of no objection certificates by this office to the soft drink bottling plant on a continuous basis. Goun Bachao Sangarsh Samiti.

and meetings on the gate of the company. Copy to: Senior Police Super-Intendant. the defendants of the above law suit and the Samajwadi Jan Parishad and Lok Samiti and NAPM have threatened that from 12th December 2003 onwards they will stage sit ins. Yours sincerely. Translated from Hindi to English 61 . has in his order dated 17th April 2003 has instructed you to ensure the compliance of the courts order. dated 20th February 2002. On behalf of the Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages. If the above mentioned committees interfere with the companies business through their sit ins and protests then it will be a violation of the orders of the honorable board. Our company has established a bottling plant in Mehandiganj after investing millions of rupees and this plant has been in operation from 1999 onwards. It was only after January 2002 that some people of the area threatened to stage a protest and interfere with our work upon which the honorable civil judge [senior division] Varanasi. Area General Manager. hunger strikes. March 15th 2004. we request you respectfully that please ensure the compliance of the order of the honorable court dated 20th February 2002 and also ensure that peace is not violated. The copy of the above order is also submitted for your perusal.1 The Hindustan Coca Cola Company put out this report2 to the U. and this will interfere with the business of the company. We hereby submit to you the Photostat of the letter and also the courts order dated 20th February 2002 for your perusal. Limited Akeel Mohamad. the police station Mirzamurad Varanasi Dear Sir. Station Officer. protests. In the last few days.P government and to Lok Samiti. Pvt. 2003 To: Mr. And over here the poor fellows go hungry when they form an organization to fight the company. issued a retraining order in the law suit number 47/2002. 11th December. And they are refusing even to think of leaving. The honorable court after hearing us ordered in its detailed order dated 20th February 2002 that the defendants and the inhabitants of the above mentioned area should be restrained from coming anywhere within three hundred meters of the company gate and also from staging any sit in or protest. The company has also given jobs to young men of neighboring villages and has all along been cooperating in the economic advancement of the area. Foreign companies are such that these things are not having any affect on them. And they run from pillar to post day and night to get justice. We’ll have to wait and see how long it takes for all this to have any affect on the company. We had a hunger strike but foreign companies are not affected by these things. Therefore.For five days straight people went without food. Mehandiganj Village. The honorable civil judge [senior division] Varanasi. Varanasi 1 2 Malti. But nothing is having any affect on the company.

The activists hung up signs onto fruit and vegetable stands and connected their microphone to the street loudspeakers. Otherwise.” the BJP. Nandlal Master. After attending workshops they had learned enough detail to return to their village and educate those who were not able to attend. the opposition to multinationals in general was stressed as well as how to vote in the upcoming elections. Villagers have expressed about how great it was to meet people from all over India as well as from all over the world that are all struggling to shut down Coca Cola plants. At the forum they attended workshops on water issues. the media and socialism.From January 16th to the 21st. This topic led to the discussion of the “feel good factor. who came to the rally at the end. One man at the end of his speech had the crowd shout “long live socialism” over and over again and the mood of 62 . Following the march. 2004. an open public meeting took place in front of the Ravidas gate. Before attending the world social forum not as many villagers were educated about the coca cola plant and what it was doing to their village. Only one member of the village spoke. most of whom were professionals and academics. This inspired and empowered them to take a stronger role in the movement as they saw its relation to a larger struggle. farmers’ issues and one workshop especially for the anti coca cola movement. about two hundred Mehandiganj residents took the train to Bombay to attend the world social forum. a march began at Shivala crossing and ended at Lanka. Then the meeting began. the speakers were all from the city. Not one farmer was present at the rally. On February 10th. Rather. and only a few villagers were there at all. Speakers spoke about the recent findings of pesticides in cold drinks but not much was mentioned about what was occurring in Mehandiganj.

the second to last speakers speech was cut off due to the running out of the tape. the opposition party did not say this. the supreme body of our representatives was in session. all of you must have read that report. Because they had no competition in those days. We would request Dr. so some sentences have been labeled as being unclear. coca cola and Pepsi. It was said by the man heading the organization that runs elections in India. investigated the products of Coke and Pepsi and found heavy amounts of pesticides in them. Friends. the center for science and environment. but has their sale stopped in the country as a whole? The report has come but no banned was imposed on these two foreign companies.) In 1977 the Janta Party Government had said this to Coca Cola. Now the question arises that our elected representatives. in our country. And we didn’t say this. we are organizing this meeting because last year a volunteer organization of Delhi. They took two decisions with consensus. said to the Coca Cola company that you cannot keep more than 50 percent of the foreign capital of this company with you. until 1977. The second decision was to form a joint parliamentary committee the foremost investigating body of the parliament (to investigate). the Lok Sabha (peoples’ house of the parliament/like the House of Representatives) was dissolved on the recommendation of the government. The report found that the allegation of the presence of pesticides in the products of both companies was correct. Sharad Pawar. You should not also retain control over more than 50 percent of the earnings of this capital. If Dr. All the products of these two companies were thrown out of the parliament canteen. Then in 1987-88 then again the communist party was in power they invited Pepsi to do business in India. to investigate if it was true that these products contained pesticides as reported by CSE. Friends. Amit Kumar belonging to (unclear [Org]) should also come on the platform. On 4th February (2004). The day before yesterday the new election commissioner of India Mr.the rally seemed to steer away from the Coca-Cola focus. And this campaign should come to a stop. and the people whom we had elected out representatives. (50 percent of ownership and earning. This committee was formed under the chairmanship of the former chief minister of Maharashtra and former defense minister of India. 63 . On that very day this joint parliamentary committee submitted its report to the parliament. Also. Then Nandalal showed up and so I recorded over an old tape to get his speech since he was the only speaker from Mehandiganj. And what is being said in that campaign? The first thing that is being said is that in our country the amount of foreign currency has increased. What is the reason? Friends. Following is the entire translations of the speeches at the rally. Somna Tripati to come on the platform. you must have also seen the television campaign being run by our government which is called Bharat Uday (India Shining). coca cola had a monopoly. Krishna Murti said that the tax collected from people which becomes the revenue of the government should not be used for a campaign which would work towards the electoral interest of any party. the first was that coca cola and Pepsi will not be sold in the parliament canteen. The parliament was in session at that time.1 Aflatoon Desai: Our companions have reached Shivala from Chetganj and they are going to begin a meeting. I would request that those people who have come from Purush (??) should come in the front. 1 The recording was not great due to shouting and poor speakers. In addition we would like to request (unclear) to come on the platform. In 1977 the Janta Party Government which was the first non congress government of the country. The election commissioner said that two hundred and fifty Crore rupees are being spent on this Bharat Uday campaign and this money belongs to the people because it is tax money. the honorable members of the two houses of the parliament have removed these products from their canteen. the Coca Cola company left India and went away. one of these two companies. Swati is listening to my voice then I would like to request her to come on the platform.

President of today’s meeting and the brothers and sisters present here. And brother Akhilesh of the Lok Samiti is also among us and Lok Samiti is associated with the mass movements of this area. (their not contributing to the economy. Because this water is meant for our drinking. But the parliamentary committee of the same body investigated and found that these drinks contained pesticides and were not safe for consumption by the parliament members. 64 . President: I the member of Samjwadi Jan Parishad second this motion. That only work seems to be convincing people that everything is going well. Has this money been used to establish factories (that would establish jobs) ? No. all of us and our country our standing at a watershed at present. no friends. So friends. In the district of (unclear) in Kerala). The public may go to hell for all they care. We would request brother Akhilesh to present his views on this mass movement before us. And also that the amount of pesticides in them is so great that it is bound to have an adverse effect on peoples health. Comrade Akhilesh is originally from Kerala and in Kerala also there is a coca cola bottling plant as in Medhiganj here. And hands should be thrown out of the parliament canteen. It is a situation where in we don’t know where to go nor where our government wants to take us. Then why have we come out in the streets against it? We want to ask you what is coca cola producing after investing the maximum amount of foreign capital in India? This product was not investigated by us but by the members of the supreme governing body of this country. One factory of coca cola is present in the Rajatalab area of your district of Benaras. this is what the number one investor of foreign capital in India is producing. Akhilesh: Mr. The joint parliamentary committee has said in its support that coca cola products contain pesticides. Why is it going well? For whom is it going well? This no one knows.) The shared market is the kind of speculation and the foreign companies are investing their money in it. Those foreign companies do not invest their money in setting up factories. I propose this. We send representatives to Delhi and Lucknow without valuable votes to look after us and what do they do? We know that some months ago when non government organization the CSE announced that coca cola and Pepsi products have so many pesticides in them then rejecting this allegation our health minister sushmaji announced that there was nothing wrong with these drinks and you can drink them without fear of any harmful consequences. Even after accepting this verdict our BJP government is telling us what it is doing. That is why we have also come here to raise questions on Bharat Uday. But the sphere of action of brother Akhilesh is in Varanasi. And we would like the national president of the Samjwadi Jan Parishad (unclear name) to preside over this meeting.How much it has increased? One arab crore rupees worth of foreign currency. Aflatoon: We would request comrade Abdula to come and take a seat here. It is possible that you might be feeling the same feel-good feeling under the leadership of Attal bihari that the foreign exchange reserves have gone up by 100 crores. But what is this reserve being used for? You should also think about that. Coca Cola has invested the maximum amount of foreign capital in India. Is this money producing anything that the people of this country need? I want to tell you that Coca Cola is the foremost company among the companies that we have come here to awaken your awareness about. And the farmers and the youth of that area have been agitating against that plant for the last year. washing and irrigation purposes. Around the same time the Kerala high court gave a decision that no one has the right to extract groundwater and sell it. Brother Akhilesh and his organization of Lok Samiti are highly active in this mass movement. it has been invested in the stock market. Brother Akhilesh of the Lok Samiti please come. Whether the public dies from drowning or hunger or cold they are not worried. I would like that comrade brother Akhilesh to come here and present his important opinion on this matter before us. Now we will begin this meeting formally.

via these foreign companies. the parliament. we should work together for this purpose and we should lend each other a helping hand. the day when it (liberty) will come to an end. that will be the day when their complete domination will come about. have the freedom to stand on this corner here and tell you about our pain. All the stars in this country whether they are film stars or sports stars or politician stars like Sushma Suraj or Amitav Bachan or Saurav Ganguli (cricket) or Sachin Dendulaker (cricket). And the country is standing at a watershed.] We will have to stop this. From this platform I want to say that they cannot deceive the public in this way. It is our good luck that democracy is still surviving in this country.” And the few people who are outside the feel good fold are saying real feel good and that is also dangerous because those who are saying real feel good are under the influence of this bottle. Ansari. Aflatoon Desaiji. the issue in this election should be unemployment. just now Aflatoon Desaiji told you that when in 1977 the Janta Party Government came to power it banned coca cola. The suicide of farmers is not an issue. Aflatoon: Friends.” Real issues are deliberately being removed from politics. Friends. People like us. The farmers who are committing suicide today. the foreign poison [that they sell. With these words I end my speech. farmer politician of The Samajwadi Jan Parishat to come here and present his views. and friends. Aflatoon: Friends.that should be the issue. Crime is increasing. 5 member council) of our country. now I would request comrade Gopal Yadav the secretary of the non-teaching staff union of BHU to come and present his revolutionary views with us. Ram Janam: Friends. into ???. That should also be taken into consideration. you and we. nothing more. Somnaji. “feel good. We will not rest until we have chased them away. Those who are publicizing this bottle are under the influence of the Ambanis and Amitav Bhachan. Today. All of us. And the day when the people who are trying (to take away this liberty) succeed. Kidnapping is increasing day by day. the report of the parliamentary committee which has come out just now says that it contains poison in it. then the Coca Cola company also reentered our country. the situation of the people of this country. Unemployment is not an issue. Friends. That’s what you should make out of it. The elections are going to take place and we will elect the supreme governing body (panchayat – Ghandian idea of village self rule. The issue is “feel good. the hundreds and thousands of dollars that is taking place. Gopal Yadav: The president of this meeting Mr. Friends. today after a march we have assembled here in the form of a public meeting. The farmer and the weaver who are committing suicide. comrade brother Akhilesh of those Lok Samiti presented his views before us now I want brother Ram Janam. This Samajwadi Jan Parishat has been fighting against this establishment 65 .All they want is for the people to “feel good” and for the people to work for them. Kidnapping is becoming an industry and that is not an issue. the fate of these farmers will change for the better. You will have to take a strong resolve because the fight has become difficult. via. When the next government came. the biggest governing body of the country is about to be elected and there is no issue before the people. and we can share each others pain. they all carry a bottle in their hands and say that this bottle will change the situation of the farmers of this country. A slogan has come out. will have to jointly take a resolve that the real issue which is the exodus of this country’s money this country’s hard earned money. The public has woken up and we will work together against these companies and against these pimps. and getting mixed into the freedom of this country. This is just one fact about coca cola and Pepsi cola but a more serious fact about them is the poison of coca cola and Pepsi cola that is getting mixed in the psyche of this country. this is what they are publicizing in the media.

and perhaps you are talking about them. It is for sure that in the last five years a tiny section of people has arisen in our country whose families have enjoyed prosperity due to foreign companies being invited into India. because I have the salary receipts of Pepsi cola and coca cola with me. Inside BHU there is no teachers union. A man like me will use all his power to fight against this establishment. When you buy a coca cola which costs 40 pesa to produce for five or seven rupees then the remaining 6 rupees 50 pese will go towards paying the 350. With these words I am finishing my speech and I request you to say our slogan loudly “Samajwadi Jan Parishad Zindabag! (long live the Socialist Council!)” (The crowd repeats after him and several times this exchange in words is repeated. The Samajwadi Jan Parishad will continuously fight against these companies. I would like to give one more example. In this way. But we had no resources to take this fight to the national level. Today all the power is in the hands of…(doesn’t finish his sentence. as there slogan says..000 rupees a month. Just now brother Ram Janam said that in democracy we have the right to hear our views.000 rupees are received by that man. Because in our country wealth has not increased and salaries have increased by such huge amounts for example 150. They definitely must be ‘feeling good. etc.000 rupees a month. The top most official of these companies who is an Indian like you and me. Shame on such a prime minister.) Today you are not even allowed to talk to the press. which even the poorest of 66 . The people did not believe us.000 rupees are given to him to entertain them so that he would not have to pay taxes on that money. so where does this money come from to pay these officials of big foreign companies? Comrades. The Samajwadi Jan Parishat worked towards creating awareness among the people through street corner plays to make the people aware that foreign companies are sucking the blood of our country.000 rupees is given in the form of educational expenses for his children. Only after that did awareness come into our country. 350.for the last ten years. no students union.] We received an indication for the struggle that we had been carrying on. Our opposition is not only to coca cola and Pepsi cola but also to all the multinational and foreign companies which are encouraging unemployment in this country.000 rupees salary for the official. he is not American. I would like to tell you that the salary of such people is.” Who today is feeling good? Is anyone feeling good. Our democratic rights have begun to be destroyed we also have to raise our voice against that. When Sunita Narayans report came out and it came out in the media in the television and in the newspapers that the soft drinks that we are giving to our children are not soft drinks but they are poison that we are giving to our children. but that system is also coming to an end. Gopalji the secretary of the non-teaching staff union of BHU presented his views before us. or officers union.’ Atalji.salt.000 rupees a month.) Aflatoon: Comrades. But the sales of the products have plummeted by 90 percent and I can say with full certainty that the Samajwadi Jan Parishad got the credit for [this discovery. in total. you know that if someone dies in the family then no one in the family makes a speech before doing the last rites of the dead. this money comes from the pockets of you and me. In addition 6 crore rupees go out of the country in this way. 350. And the awareness came so quickly that the sales of the products of these companies virtually came to a halt and only five to ten percent of the population still insists on drinking the products because this section of the population is used to drinking alcohol so this poison means nothing to them. do you know what his salary is? His salary is 350. they must surely be feeling good. This is just an opportunity to make political mileage. He should be known as (unclear word). The Atal Bihari Vajpayee who made political mileage out of the death of Ram Chundra Paramhamsa. Atal Bihari Vajpayee who gave the slogan ‘feel good’ gives no slogan for those countless young people who become unemployed in the country. the most ordinary of things. For example from 25-50. and if guests come to his house then 50. and this amount is given in the form that ensures that he has minimum tax liability. The second point is that if the government banned Pepsi and Coke from the parliament canteen then why did they not ban it all over the country? Why did Atal Bihari not ban them all over the country? A man who is operating in the name of Ram is saying to us “feel good.

the film stars and sports stars. even by the joint parliamentary committee and it has been found that these drinks are not fit to drink. (Unclear Sentence) A number of speakers will talk about this. You have no knowledge that’s why you have stopped drinking it. The coca cola company which has a branch in Rajatalab. should come here and present her views. And it is again being proved that pesticides are present in these products. But just see how they advertise their salt.” And after that our new celebrities.000 rupees a month. they say “our salt falls freely. ‘do we have nothing to do with the health of our country and its economy? We all know that these foreign companies produce junk for one rupee twenty five pese and sell it for 10 rupees or 12 rupees or 5 rupees or 7 rupees. What happened as a result? The result is that today even salt is advertised on television. as well as the richest of people. Shouldn’t we be thinking about that? Shouldn’t this shake us up that they are using our water stealthily? And they are robbing our country blind and taking our money abroad. and you are not “advanced”. Comrades.poor needs to eat. which would give them a ‘safeguard’ by which they would be able to get the products passed in scrutiny. And the funny thing is that this was apparent even in our earlier report. then surely some people who work for the Tata company feel good. and they are more than the allowed amount. They said “we have had our products tested in various laboratories in the developed countries and our products are ok.” Salt is a thing which need not be advertised. Vijay of an unclear org). Ask the elderly people standing behind you and they’ll tell you that in this very country 15 years ago non packaged salt was available for 40 or 50 pese per kilo.V they show that a packet is being opened and the salt falls freely into a bottle and it is not falling in the form of clots. because every person will buy salt. the branch manager in Benaras gets 120. A particular company says “buy our salt. They told us that if we were not drinking these drinks or if we had given up drinking Pepsi or Coke because of these reports then we were fools or extremely backward. and the very height of shamelessness is that they use our groundwater shamelessly and stealthily. You know very well how government standards are set up and how ways are found around them. began advertising this product one after the other. There was a ban on ‘khara namak (salt sold in the form of clots’).” They are fit to drink.” This is the mindset which most people acquired and they thought that these people were right and we don’t have labs like that in India. The tests that were conducted inside the country in our laboratories made it clear that the amount of pesticides in this drinks is very high but these companies are so brazen that they refuse to except this and they took the excuse that the laboratories of our country are not advanced enough to test their products. This is not the basic question. But the workers who work in that company.50 or 7 rupees a kilo. and we should not be drinking them. The scientists of our country cannot be intelligent enough so that we could trust their reports. People who sell these become 150. This ban was there for a very long time. The result is that the salt that costs 40 pese a kilo is being sold to you for rupees 6. if salt which costs 40 pese gets sold for 7 rupees. We need to go beyond this and think more deeply about the issue.” On T. If we stop 67 . The government issued an order that hence forth only iodized salt will be sold in the country. And these people have began a conspiracy to get a new standard established they want that a standard should be set up for water and other things.000 or 300. I would like to Jagratri Rahi who is a companion of (Mr. of a deeper kind. We should ask ourselves “is our responsibility limited to just thinking about our health’.000 rupees a month as salary. who is active in our city. Jagrati Rahi: Today we have assembled here to oppose the coca cola and Pepsi cola and other soft drink companies whose products have been found to contain pesticides. You should drink it because we have had it tested abroad. They earn billions and billions of rupees and they take them abroad. But the fact is that the parliamentary committee report that has come out says that our labs are more technically advanced than the labs abroad where the products were tested. The question is. The question is not whether or not these products contain harmful levels of pesticides. how much do they get? 60 rupees a month and apart from that when they have worked for 3 months consecutively then they are laid off so that they may not be able to demand permanent employment in the company.

I want to request the public of this country that the foremost committee of this country handed in a report saying that these products contain the maximum amounts of pesticides. Similarly. but even then the biggest harm was that foreign clothes would deplete the capital of our country. The need of the hour is to do this.drinking it only because somebody said that it contained pesticides so that we are prepared to drink it again tomorrow when it is free from it then what will happen is exactly what is happening in the country today. This is necessary and it is also necessary to participate in such mass movements. an irresponsible government has not only brought Pepsi cola into our country but has brought many foreign companies and got them established here. Billions and billions of rupees have accumulated in the government treasury. And right after that Pepsi cola is removed from the canteen of the Rajasabah (house of elders. Why are they giving their time to this thing? Why are they coming here and shouting? They’re doing this because they’re thinking and their feelings are not confined to themselves. and the other people present in the meeting. has increased the importance of Pepsi cola and coca cola so much so that today we instead of feeding our children milk. They need to know that we are not wasting our time.) And why is this banned not imposed all over the country? I want to appeal to the people of this country that they should ask and ask through any medium possible why they are being deceived? Now that elections to Lok Sabha are on the horizon. And the public of our country gets trapped into this magical charm. I would request all of you to broaden your thinking especially in view of the coming elections. but the poor man whether he belongs to a city or a village is hard pressed to find a job which would pay him even seventy or a hundred rupees a 68 . a slogan of “feel good” has been given out. decide for yourself and then decide what is wrong and what is right. The manner in which the country was a slave and Ghandiji burned upon fire of foreign clothes. The fact that there are very few people assembled here necessitates our telling those who are busy doing their work in the marketplace or around us that they also need to listen to us and we are not just a bunch of fools standing here and shouting. having gobbled up millions of rupees in the form of bribes and many other ways. why won’t they? Whether you are feeling good or whether you should or should not be feeling good. Things are getting bad because we are not prepared to come out of our limited worlds and think on a broader scale. Surely they will feel good. are making them drink Pepsi cola. are robbing the country and feeling good. We need to extend our limits we should form the habit of thinking a bit also about our country and society. and then act accordingly. otherwise you will not have any option left for registering your complaints in the future. Keep in mind that when you go to cast your precious vote then the first thing is that even though you are city people please consider it necessary to cast your vote because village people do cast their votes. and having publicized them to such an extent. I would request the district general secretary of the Samajwadi Jan Parishad Comrade Kashinatji to come and present his views briefly. Kashinat: (I greet. These foreign companies robbed the hard earned money of the poor public of this country by indulging in high power publicity using stars like Satchin Dulyukar (cricketer) and they work towards deluding you in various ways. there was no harm in wearing western clothes.) the presiding chairman of the meeting. the Samajwadi Jan PArishad members present in the meeting. today we are opposing Pepsi cola and coca cola. Ansariji. So you should also consider it necessary to cast your vote and before you cast your vote think whether or not you are voting for those very people who. Things will keep getting from bad to worse. They need to know that those who are sitting here are also busy people who are all well set in their jobs and professions. The despicable sight that this government is showing vis-àvis for its own selfish interest so that (unclear). This is not our fault this is the government’s fault which takes money from foreign companies. Aflatoon: Thank you Jagratiji. This government having brought foreign companies into the country. Thank you. even back then.

V and in the news it comes out that there is no shortage of food grains in our country but not only in villages. he will not irrigate his fields with his blood for sure. This reminds me of a poem by [??]. people in cities are dying from starvation.” Who is this third man? It is the people of the parliament of this country. All the people are divided among these parties. The land of the villages is becoming barren. practice agriculture. On one hand you have the report given by the joint parliamentary committee investigating these drinks. in the name of caste.“There is one guy who prepares roti’s. but over and above that. and I’m talking about 15 years ago. These people have divided the people of this country in the name of religion. The biggest source of employment is in the villages. and today the people of this country are not one single unity. Some people are adopting BJP. and you will find that the toilet which you normally clean 1 Term for English Medium Schools. Today those who have capital will not send their children to primary school. But by privatizing education they have divided this country and this society. and then theirs a third guy who neither prepares nor eats rotis. The poor public in this country will have to realize this about their basic needs. some people are adopting the BSP. Comrades. you must have seen that sometime ago. this government. but today I see that educated boys of my village are unemployed. by privatizing education. And the man sitting in an air conditioned room has hundreds of thousands and billions of rupees going into his account from [unclear]. there are more speakers among us. After all. I’ve got a job.000 rupees. there is another guy who eats roti’s. [because] we don’t have jobs for you. They have made it classless. This is what the poet has said. They have divided it into two classes. if you sacrifice just five rupees and buy a either Pepsi cola or coca cola and pour half of that bottle into your toilet. where they charge monthly fees from 1.day. Get divided. Where there is land from there hundreds and thousands of liters of water is being extracted every day. I am a government employee.000 rupees to 3. that children belonging to all the classes used to go to the same primary school. And comrades. When he gets up in the morning his first thought is to get a job which would allow him to get him to the stove in his house in the evening so that his children would get to eat. In this country fourteen thousand kilometers of roads are being built and they are claiming that they would give employment to three hundred thousand people in this scheme. what will the farmer do with this barren land? Comrades. New farming. until then. Computers are being installedwhere earlier ten people used to work. And every other day government jobs are being reduced. The person in this country who plays with roti is the corrupt official of this country. they will not send their children to cheap educational centers because these schools do not give proper education. Good education is only found in convent1 schools. Where have your billions of rupees gone? In the papers and on T. unemployment and poverty will not go away. from where does this money come to him. And I will appeal to you and I’ll tell you one case about Pepsi cola. He is unable to find such a job. the third man is the politician who is sitting in the place of power. he only plays with them. whether that child belonged to a rich or poor family. And where there is lack of education how can there be jobs? What can they do? All they can do is lay bricks and work at construction sites. 69 . that until we come out on the streets and burn a bonfire of the foreign companies as Ghandiji and Ambedkar did. And education. But also look to your basic needs and see if you are able to fulfill them after a full day of hard work. I would like to appeal to the public of this country. are depriving the poor of education. What can a person earning 70 or 100 rupees a day think about education? All the thinking will be about the fire burning in his belly. He does shed his blood but even today his stomach is empty. now one computer will do that job. How will the millions and billions of people of this country fill their stomachs by inviting coca cola and Pepsi cola they are working towards rendering the farmers’ fields barren? And then they say “my country is predominantly an agricultural country. these people in power. and such peoples children remain uneducated. hunger. The third man is those who organize worship rituals in the name of religion and these are the people in whose pockets the hard earned money of the people of this country is going. And even those who acquired degrees through their hard work are unable to find jobs. I have no objection to this.

I would request Father Anand. today the type of exploitation that is going on in the country in the name of economic development. Only then would our country go on the part of true development. we should come together and we should marginalize the foreign forces and the indigenous selfish political forces that have surrendered these foreign forces. Aflatoon Desai: Thank you Comrade Kashinatji. so now you can understand that Pepsi cola is even more dangerous then acid. And they will work towards keeping these companies established in the country. Andhra Pradesh. the people who struggle and toil for a living. this big slogan of development has been given out and the slogan of “feel good” that has been given is an absolute deceit and the common public is being forced to become more poor on account of this globalization and privatization and liberalization. Now.) 70 . privatization. Chairman. the convener of Prernakala Manch . remove this fashion from inside your mind. till then these corrupt politicians are going to prepare standard level of pesticides for these drinks in this country. and in any way possible. wherever you are.in India as well as in other poor countries. Because through the media of mass communication. and the physics professor at BHU. more speakers will come with their arguments and I thank you for listening to me.) which is active not only in Varanasi but in all of Poorvanchal (eastern U. For example. Our companions have described how the yawning gap between the rich and the poor is becoming wider in the field of education. Comrades. today here. which in states like Karnataka. I greet all the comrades present in this rally against companies like coca cola and Pepsi cola which make poison and feed poison to the people. the farmers. the director of the Kala Manch to come here and present his views before us. very few people are able to understand its sinister side. and then create a society characterized by equality and justice is our duty. which we are being made to drink. Victory be to India (Jai Hind [used to be the Arabic word for India. Now I would like the national vice president of the Samajwadi Jan Parishad. is forcing the cotton farmers of these states to commit suicide by its repressive practices. the laborers. through the privatization of education. Swati to come and present her views for us. Masanta. Swati: The members of this assembly present. All of us. the revolutionaries present here. Father Anand: Mr. Dr. slogan during the British times). Amit Kumar Sikander of the Vidyarthi Yuvjan Sabha (young students organization. Aflatoon Desai: We are grateful to Father Anand. Father Anand. Hence I would request you. Now I wish to invite the Prernakala Manch (the inspiration art forum.P area plus Bihar) and this body is working to bring about a cultural revolution in this area. Speakers before me have told you in detail about Pepsi cola and coca cola but I would like to say that today all these things have come out clearly in front of the people and the report of the joint parliamentary committee has also made the things very clear. It is our duty to fight on the side of the exploited by becoming aware about the deceit and the false promises and the lies and by realizing the truth we have to isolate and marginalize all the evil forces which are trying to keep the people of the country misinformed. We are one with them. which is an American company. Akhilesh Bhai of Lok Samiti. and economic liberalization.with acid and yet it is never completely clean with just half of a bottle of Coke your toilet will become much more clean. and we are lending our cooperation to them in their struggle and we stand by all those who are suffering the ill affects of globalization. Dr. and Maharashtra. Somnat Trapatiji. But alongside this. Today during this public meeting by means of this public meaning we wish to express out solidarity with these farmers. Dr. As long as you will not come out on the streets and protest against this drink. And boycott it. the respected Abdula Ansareeji. And you know very well how dangerous a substance acid is. the exploitative practices of Pepsi cola and coca cola are not just confined to them but there are also other companies that are working towards pushing the farmers off this country to the brink of starvation.

If the glasses of my spectacles are dirty and if I were to put this drink on them. and mister Mittal who belongs to the Pepsi company. The fact is that even in villages now. Lassi. Similarly. Aflatoonji. Things are coming to such a pass that people consider drinking sugar cane juice as a sign of backwardness. our honorable Prime Minister. fruit juices and lemonade in our country. “What can we do? There are no standards here. Sunil Gupta. It is melting away because the drink contains phosphoric acid. There’s no industry of food preservation or food processing in this country. and lemonade is really cheap to make because lemons are very cheap. a public toilet or the tires of a car. The joint parliamentary committee has avoided taking any stern action against the company. you guys are always rejecting everything.I will 71 . why are we changing our habits simply due to fashion? I think it is wrong. it is a fashion to serve drinks like Pepsi cola and coca cola and weddings and other social functions. all of you who are listening to me whether children or grown up.) to highlight the fact that the fashion of drinking cold drinks which is growing in our country and society are nothing but poisoned cold drinks that may give temporary respite from heat. to draw your attention to this topic and for this purpose we have erected here a huge bottle (Coke bottle made of paper with slogans and poison signs on it. they simply left the matter to the food ministry. Whoever works for these companies in return for salary has already sold out his power of discrimination. if the person is rich enough to own a car or even the windshield of the car and you will find that just like acid this drink cleans all filth completely. for example. and if the friend says “its all crap. I know for sure that those who are present in this meeting do not drink these things and we don’t want any of them to waste even five rupees of their hard earned money in buying these drinks. To give the drink a certain tanginess and the bubbles that arise when you open the bottle. To conduct this experiment as our district general secretary Kashinatji did.suppose you don’t drink these things. And these companies claim that they have no choice but to do so because the very water of this country is polluted. it has merely criticized them. But others who still have there capacity to think and discriminate in tact should think to themselves as to why they waste their hard earned money on these things. but don’t waste any of your own money in buying it. they took instant action and banned Coke and Pepsi from the parliament canteen. carbonic acid is mixed into the drink. but the other guy does. but when it came to safeguarding the health of members of parliament.We have organized this public meeting. There are no rules. And you will be able to see it melting away with your own eyes. And the joint parliamentary committee has found phosphoric acid in this drink. And our government.” Just see how big a dishonesty this is. or else we would have complied with them. Strange how they were so aware of the health hazards with respect to their own health but not aware about the health of the public at large. if a child has lost a tooth then take that tooth and put it inside a glass half full of Coke or Pepsi and you will find that after a week or ten days that tooth will be seen melting away. mentioned one name. And these drinks cost just one rupee to produce and then they are sold for five or ten rupees or whatever and from drinking them the teeth of the children rot and the lining of the intestines also rot away. just say to someone with whom you may be having a dispute about the harmful affects of coca cola. as you have heard the previous speakers mention.and all other comrades and the members of our Samajwadi Jan Parishad. but which are toxic for our teeth as well as intestines. Why do you keep such things in your household? Phosphoric acid is mixed into things to do the same job that spirit (rubbing alcohol) is used for in industry. But suppose you are having a discussion with a friend of yours. All these things are non-essential for our bodies. they would become squeaky clean. And the committee has also found pesticides in these drinks. They did not take any stern action. They say. buy one bottle of any of these drinks.” then tell him to buy a bottle and tell him to pour just half of the contents over any place or thing which is exceptionally dirty. They don’t even want to drink Lassi anymore. just as the convener of this meeting. I don’t understand why when we have things like sugar cane juice. They have merely passed the buck to the ministry. It is some of our own brothers who are running these companies in return for fat salaries. The safety standards in Europe and America which prevent these companies from mixing these toxic substances too much into their drinks there do not apply in India so non-regulated toxic substance use is going on with abandon in India.

Swati. This is pure legalism devoid of all ethics. If this statement had come from Pramod Mahajan (senior spokesmen of BJP party)or from Vinay Katiyar (spokesmen of the hard-line elements of the BJP party) or other people. he said “what is wrong with it?” He says there is nothing wrong with having such an ad campaign because the election dates have not been declared yet. which is 22 kilometers. And at other places it indulges in general massacre as happened in Gujurat and by doing all this. 72 . the elections are going to take place.v or so. then we would have excused them for saying so because these people have no brains and they have yet to acquire any intelligence. He had declared beforehand that he would undertake a five day long fast in support of our policies. even though it is a very rich party. so are we. and you might have probably seen it on t. And at other times this party raises the bogi of Christian missionaries converting Hindu’s to Christianity. Chamchal Mukherji has on a regular basis taken part in this agitation over there. are fighting the coca cola company which has a bottling plant in that area for the last one year. Jay Hind (Victory be to India) and Jay Samajwad. These are the same people who for their vested interests sometimes break up the issue of the temple in Ayodya and at other times break up the issue of Bhojshala (the eating room) in a place called Dhar in Matya Pradesh.say just a few things about him.) Aflatoon: Thank you Dr. And he will not use those advertisements once the election dates got declared. With this I say. Recently. This man is running this country in a fashion where he feels free to use government money which is our tax money as his own private fund and you and I don’t know that this ad campaign has been put out to collect votes. it is the party of eminent industrialists and merchants. This ad campaign is not financed by party funds. we will stop giving out this ad campaign and as long as the election dates are not declared this is not an immoral act. Excuse me for bringing up these issues even though we are talking about coca cola because just as they are unable to forget elections. this party is dividing the society into fractious groups. They are speaking such a big lie when they claim that they have built village roads. is called the Indian Machiaevelli) has gone. when the election dates are declared. I want comrade Chamchalji to come and present his views before you. Now. think over carefully and try to understand this. all the finances of this party are very good at earning money and they gave healthy contributions to the party fund. Everyone knows that the parliament has dissolved. If you forget their hidden agenda then multinational companies will continue to rob this country and trucks belonging to multinational companies will keep rolling down the golden triangle roads and streets of the villages will remain in a state of disrepair as they are today. We have not expected such an unethical irresponsible statement from such a senior politician. now I would like to call Chamchal Mukherji our revolutionary Comrade of the Samajwadi Jan Parishad. the struggling young men of that village undertook a five day long fast and Comrade Chamchal Mukherji was also a part of that fast. this statement.After a month or a month and a half. and the election commission says that the Bharat Udai (India Shining) campaign is a clear violation of public morality. The Farmers and laborers of Rajatalab. People coming here from Chaubepur please tell us how many village roads has this government made in your village? The congress government of Madya Pradesh lost the election on the grounds of not building roads and not providing electricity and if you do not face any problems regarding roads and electricity and water then go ahead and make our prime minister win this election. So the honorable Prime minister makes a statement which comes out in the newspapers today. But we will not forgive Vajpayee who is the prime minister of this country. So I want that this government should stop misusing our money and if it doesn’t do that then you should teach it a lesson because Punditji (Prime Minister is a Brahaman) has drawn such a fine line but the age of Kautilya (ancient Indian thinker/writer who wrote book on state-craft on India. When this government was operating its party was never short of funds so why is it not using its own party fronts to finance this ad campaign? The money that the government has does not fall from the sky. because this is out and out wrong and unethical. because there are many other speakers with a lot to say. The citizen of today fully recognizes his rights. He says. (Victory be to Socialism. It comes from the taxes that you and I pay from our hard earned money.

The farmers who went to work in the fields wading through this water ended up having various skin diseases. In these factories. whether it be lucks or any other brand. When you wash your clothes you either wash them with Surf or with Rin. our small companies that were here producing soap and other things were driven out of business because small factories and tiny workshops that we use to have in our country earlier were driven out of business by the coming of these companies. and the comrades of our Samajwadi Jan Parishad. both companies need water. Comrades. When you shave you use palm olive shaving cream and even the razor that you use comes from some foreign company. the trash that comes out of the factory is allowed to flow out into the farms of Mehandiganj area and because of this the entire land became bad. Somnat Trapatiji. There is not a single example of this. Abdula Bhai. The biggest example is the well there which is hundreds of years old and the water level in that well has also gone down considerably. This Coca cola company has got its opponents murdered in Columbia and other countries too. Wherever they have sold their drinks in all such places. Swatiji. or anything in absence of which our life before was different. If we go to any neighborhood store then whichever toothpaste you buy. human labor is not required and everything is done by machines. one such element makes your bones waste away. If you want to know if this is true or false. the groundwater level of the area has gone down by twenty or twenty five or thirty feet. today this procession against coca cola company and Pepsi cola company passed through the city and ended here at Lanka. then its either one of these companies that feeds its candidate for the office of the president. So Comrades. then send any friend or relative of yours either to Rajatalab where coca cola has a factory or Jaunpur where Pepsi cola has a factory and have them ask the local farmers as to what the condition of their farms is. And these all belong to foreign companies. And the drinks that they make contain many elements that are harmful to your health. And you will also find that whoever drinks coca cola always looks for coca cola only because it contains an element called caffeine which is a kind of intoxicant and it creates an appetite and this company through its advertisements in two hundred countries takes incalculable amounts of money to America and they are amassing capital in this fashion. And they operate in 200 countries over the world. whether it be Colgate or any other brand. But in fact because of the arrival of these foreign companies. But of a place which is merely 20 kilometers from here. all oft hem are soaps produced by foreign companies. Dr. And when these companies extract millions of liters of water from the ground. Crops standing in the fields were ruined. Because they set up factories on a large scale. And you will find that in the Mehandiganj area of Rajatalab where coca cola has a plant. And this has 73 . crops are getting destroyed. hundreds and thousands of people have become jobless and an estimated five hundred thousand small industrial units have closed down. And for this reason the land there is becoming barren. If you buy any soap whether the soap is used to wash your body or your clothes. You guys are probably wondering which place these companies belong to and what are the harmful affects of the drinks that they make. and in that factory the bottles that are returned after drinking are washed with caustic soda and after the washing. why is this happening and what has this company made that is so harmful for our lives? Tell me one thing. right from the time when the company got set up there. wherever people have dared to oppose it.Chamchal Mukherji: Chairman of this meeting. And both these companies belong to America. these two companies are the worlds largest manufacturers of cold drinks. Nor have we received anything new from them. Dr. Where can they get their water from? Everywhere extracts groundwater. did we not have these things already in our country? Not a single multinational company has come into our country due to the arrival of which our country has progressed. And when the presidential election takes place in America. including many countries in south America because wherever they establish their brand or their factory then whether it be coca cola or Pepsi. of a place called Rajatalab. Because of this. all the things produced by all the multinationals that have ever come into this country. whichever animal drank that water died. I am not telling you a tale of some far away place. the level of groundwater diminishes rapidly. all these brands are owned by foreign companies. agitations are taking place against them.

And the agreement stipulated that the company will produce electricity which will be bought by the Maharahstra government and if the Maharashtra government did not pay for the electricity then the Indian government would. But there’s no one who can speak out against this. You must be thinking that I am telling a white lie and it is impossible. These companies told the government that they cannot pay a lot of taxes because seeing the amount of money that they invested in advertising their products. But it is true that the BJP government in the state has handed over this river to that American Company. And entire fleets of tankers belonging to the company have begun positioning themselves along the bank of the river. And despite the big hue and cry the foreign electronic media and print media entered our country. But in the media you will always find either sensational news or advertisements of foreign goods. An agreement took place between the government and the ENRON company. Our Indian power companies go to Iran to get contracts to produce electricity there at the rate of two rupees 25 pese per unit and the biggest power producing company comes from America and we give them a contract to produce electricity for us at the rate for four rupees twenty five pesa per unit. the BJP-Shivsayna Coalition in Maharashtra promised to throw such companies into the Gulf of Arabia if they came to power in Maharashtra. backroom negotiations. Countless people died. and this time the attack will be for the sake of water. The ocean of our country is being sold and you never receive any news about this. But if you ask the owner of the PCO as to how his earnings have changed over the last three years. The company that is the biggest producer of electricity in the world set up its plant in Maharashtra. a PCO opened up and the prime minister points to them as examples of jobs. When there was opposition to this. And an entire nation was destroyed. and the company is getting ready to do so. Andhra Pradhesh. and all the politicians of our country took bribes in helping that company set itself up here. And if a farmer wants to use that river water for irrigation then he will 74 . Now the villages lying on the banks of this river do not have the right to use that water anymore. But to this day not a single shed of evidence has been found to prove that. The small fishermen who used to catch fish in the ocean no longer have the right to do so because all the foreign companies have taken over the ocean. are facing extinction thanks to the BJP government which allowed foreign companies to fish in these waters where earlier local fishermen used to catch fish to support their families. All this is insider stuff.500 crore rupees. Today we are lamenting our unemployment but we forget that the unemployment problem is not merely confined to visible statistics but in fact millions of fishermen who live around the coasts of Tamil Nadu. You guys know very well what a big fight took place in Iraq for the sake of petrol on charges that Iraq possessed atomic weapons. Day by day our country is being sold off. And if the Indian government would be unable to pay this money then the company would have the right to legally occupy any property belonging to the Indian government accept the property belonging to the defense ministry. no one to question why it attacked Iraq? Now it is the turn of the rest of the world to face such attacks. Now the entire water of the world will go in the hands of the American company which is the biggest company dealing with water in the world. and Kerala. The government has awarded entire strips of ocean to these companies to fish as they choose.rendered millions of people working in these factories jobless but our prime minister says that foreign companies have created employment here. the market size of the country was not large enough. This is the agreement that took place between the government and the ENRON company. On June fourteenth when 1998 at four pm when the Atal Bihari Vijpayee was losing the vote of confidence he gave permission to the ENRON company to do business here. The minds of our country are being sold at dirt cheap prices. And you know what employment was created by them? At every street corner. and Atal Bihar Vajpayee gave this guarantee. the minister responsible for that department at that time refused to give these companies any concessions but Vajpayee the Prime Minister interceded and got them concessions. you will find that people have been given mobile phones now and that also at a very cheap price and the government gave these mobile phone companies tax concession amounting to 10. The river Shivnat in Chhatisgarh state has been given to this company by the government. But the reason why the attack took place has not been substantiated with any evidence so far. Jag Mohan. It’s an open secret.

from abroad. It has been publicized that Andhra Pradesh would become the most modern state of India and people were keen to meet the chief minister of that state. And the carpets that we export worldwide are not make by anyone trained in any school. and cashew nuts. I do not possess even a pen that we could call are own. No artisan making Benarsi Sari’s ever goes to a university to learn his trade. So if you happen to have a friend in Kerala.the Britannia biscuit that you eat is also a foreign company. The locality named Shivala which is in your neighborhood. and Horlicks that we drink. Chandra Bhavu Naidu. the illiterate farmer of a village. It is made by a Swiss company. he weaves his Sari’s using techniques he has learned from his forefathers and we sell Benarsi Sari’s to the whole world. He doesn’t learn it in any school.439 goods. ((((State has power to reject imports. The Lipton tea and Brook bond tea that you drink is also not from our country. due to which we began to import coconut oil. “this was made in our India?” Is there any tooth paste like that? Is there any brand of shoes like that? Just little things have been made for example there was this big hue and try about computer ancillaries being exported from India but as I have said earlier this [computer] business can place recession any time and the floor could fall out from underneath any time. thousands of farmers have committed suicide. A pen that we could claim was made from Indian technology. is also not of our country. coconut powder. But. the Narasimha Rao (the congress gov. the complain that you drink is also not from our country. This is a matter worth thinking about. that came in 1991. Today the thousands of laborers who make Alygrahi Pajamas are not literate or well schooled. a state where the chief minister had promised to link all the villages through a computer network. And today right from soap to biscuits. And the Nescafe coffee that some people drink is also a foreign company. Any country is considered strong when products made in it are exported outside but we are not able to sell anything made in our factories abroad. rubber. “this was made in India. Why did they do it? Because the farmers of that state used to harvest rice and paddy. almonds. The carpets are woven by farmers and illiterate villagers and we’ll sell these carpets all over the world and bring home money from that. The metal ware of Muradabad and similar things are made by illiterate weavers and embroiderers.have to pay some money to the company or the contractor appointed by the company.” Can you show me a single soap or pen that is produced in India that you can show proudly to the rest of the world and say. before BJP) Government entered an agreement with the World Trade Organization and transferred all these things to foreign companies and the BJP government opened imports of 1. Even after setting up such huge factories we were not able to produce even a pen which we could call proudly made in India. Now think we have lost our minds and these minds have been handed over to foreign companies and our ocean has been given to foreign companies as has been our river. Badges are made at Shivala which are used by the army in America and France. When you go home think about it. is full of people who work at embroidery. The pen that is lying in your pockets is a Reynolds pen. And even if you don’t drink this coffee you at least watch these advertisements. It’s unfortunate that after fifty or fifty five years of independence. but the farmers of that very state committed suicide. so this is just him )))) What is the condition of Andhra Pradesh about which our earlier comrade was talking. that the person that you gave no respect to. but in the same Andhra Pradhesh. And the foreign currency that comes into our country as a result from that strengthens our economy. and it can always go bust like a balloon. But the government gives no respect to this business. our scientists have not been able to create anything that we can probably claim to the whole world that. produces the Dheradun rice and the farmers of Kerala used to grow coconuts. it doesn’t belong t our country. why did they do that? Because such a developed state so well equipped with modernity. And it does not belong to our country. cashews. But even after fifty to fifty five years of independence. The Reynolds pen that you write with is from Switzerland and the Rotomek pen that you use is from Germany and they advertise themselves as the Rotomek pen made from German technology. and they used to 75 . nor our the artisans who make the woodcraft for which Jaipur is famous. But even today one thing that we export and one thing that the whole world recognizes us for our skill in is the Benarsi Sari. you can ask him what state the Kerala farmers are in. Nescafe is the biggest producer of Coffee in the world.

And the entire world is in their grip. Because all Soya bean oil that you find in packets in stores is not from India. he is depositing this money in the 76 . It takes home 10. And the husk of the soya bean is eaten by the cattle in America because it contains protein because those people export meat. comrades. So just think these drink companies are taking home 10. And even small farmers of America own farms of three hundred to four hundred acres in size. and that company is the biggest seed producing company of the world and it is an American company.000 crore rupees home each year. And I also have to think about that coca cola and Pepsi are creating havoc in Rajatalab and Jaunpur. The majority of companies that sell seeds are either from the U. After selling them. even then we would not get 10500 crore rupees for them. And since they don’t have people working for them their cost of production is quite low. When those pests did not die. So they dump their excess oil into countries like India. Shouri who heads the department of disinvestments is selling off one or the other state owned companies each day. I also have to think about the fishermen of Kerala. And if that happens then where the mustard grow in your fields go? Where will your soya bean go? So. The company said that the tomatoes and potatoes did not contain enough pulp and using this and other pretexts refused to buy the farmers produce. Because if you extract oil from soya bean you can’t throw the remaining waste anywhere in a river or a drain because it is not allowed because they have very strict environmental laws. And also about the farmers in Rajasthan. Because India had tankers to store gasoline and diesel but never to store edible oils. the farmers consumed that very pesticide because they were unable to pay up the money that they owed to the company. And today the price is seven hundred to even hundred and fifty rupees per quintal because so much of American soya bean oil has come to India. district of Madya Pradesh. But when the tomato and potato crops were ripe for harvest.S or Britain. even after being sprayed with that pesticide.do traditional farming. respectively. When the oil tanker carrying soya bean oil landed at the harbor in India there was no space to store all that oil and it was a huge problem and the people who imported that oil somehow managed to sell that off and recover their money. This Coca Cola company and Pepsi cola company each year takes home 1050 crore rupees to 1100 crore rupees from our country. There the farmers of Punjab are committing suicide. Bangladesh. saying that the tomatoes and potatoes were not up to the mark as per the companies standards. this Pepsi company made them stop cultivating wheat and start cultivating tomatoes and potatoes. BALCO (aluminum company owned by government) the biggest aluminum company of India which is located in Korba. The farmers there spray seeds and fertilizers on their fields from helicopters. and the farmers gave up their traditional farming of rice and started growing cotton.500 crore rupees and 11. and Pakistan. and Madya Pradesh who are committing suicide.if we try to sell off this company and some other companies in addition to it. the grocers said they did not need their soya beans because the grocery stores now sell readymade soya bean oil from America. But on the other hand. I don’t want to think only about myself. which had produced so much agriculture during the green revolution it was a state which supplied food grains to the whole country. It’s not as if Pepsi and Coke are lifesaving drugs that we cannot do without.000 crore rupees each year and Mr. What I mean to say is that even ready made oil will come from abroad. but by the third year entire fields were eaten away by pests and the same company produces the pesticide that kills those pests. But the seeds that the company gave were cotton seeds. Because in America Soya bean is produced on a large scale. And the farmers of Rajasthan and Madya Pradesh are in a pitiable state because the soya bean that they used to grow earlier sold for rupees 1350 per quintal (1 quintal= 100 kilograms). They sell meat all over the world. And as a result the local soya bean farmers found that when they took their produce to the local grocers. the company refused to by the farmers produce. And take the case of Punjab.an exodus of money that we don’t need at all.500 to 11. So much soya bean oil came into India that even huge tankers had no space left to store this oil. In Karnataka and Haryana also farmers are committing suicide. Punjab. For one or two years the harvest was good. Different local companies use imported soya bean oil and package them with their own brand names and sell then to the consumers. This company came and gave seeds to the farmers there on credit and it also gave them fertilizer and encouraged them to harvest their crops using their seeds.

national bank and claiming that the foreign exchange reserves of our country have gone up by such and such amount. Since just as someone who sells off the land belonging to his ancestors can keep the proceeds in a bank and claim that the money is his wealth, similarly the government of Aroun Shouri is trying to show the public that the country has gained so much money from abroad. But the company which is investing the money by these companies is usually either a soap making company or a soda making company or some motocycle manufacturing company or an automobile company or a cold drink company. To this day not a single company has come into our country whose product is essential for us. So, comrades, it is a matter of dead concern that even our salt has gone into the hands of foreign companies. So has our soap and soda. Our culture and civilization has been taken over by these companies and now they are getting ready to teach us their own culture and civilization. So, comrades, the development that you see is taking place just for the sake of a handful of people, these people who earn salaries ranging from one hundred thousand rupees to one hundred fifty thousand rupees a month belong to this tiny elite segment which is full of people who do MBA and even among them only a very tiny section of people get these jobs. Look at this heritage hospital (in Lanka, where the rally was taking place), and the world bank is constantly putting pressure on the Indian government not to finance government hospitals and primary health centers and asking the government to close down all such treatment centers. Otherwise, the World Bank would not give the government any money. But, the matter has got embroiled in the controversy because how will the government build the highways to link the four metropolises if it does not get the money from the World Bank? When the government is trying to publicize its actions as taken in the pursuit of the welfare and development of the people of the country, just think that these highways will link the emptier parts of the country to the metropolises where foreign goods will land and eventually find their way into the homes of consumers even in villages. Whether it be the Honda motorcycle or the Kawasaki motorcycle or the Maruti car, all these foreign goods will eventually land in Chennai via huge trucks. When goods will come out of Chennai they will end up in Calcutta. When goods are produced in Calcutta, they will be consumed in Bangalore. All these arrangements are being made just to facilitate the transit of foreign goods from one part of the country to another. These roads are not being built for those of you who are standing here with bicycles or with scooters. But the government is trying to show that it is making these roads for the general public, for the millions of our country men. And even the contract to make these roads has been given to a Korean or Russian company not to any Indian company. So just think, that even after fifty years of independence we have not been able to achieve enough technical progress to build a road. We are giving away the contracts to build roads to foreign companies. And who supplies the cement for these roads? The Larsen and Toubro company, which is a foreign company. All the road making machines that are being employed are made abroad. So, comrades you have to oppose all these foreign companies, every single one of them, and you have to discuss these things and you have to oppose the BJP government which is working to make life easier only for a handful of people who live in the cities. I once again request my comrades to boycott these companies and to discuss and spread this message among your friends too so that this lopsided development should come to an end. And we oppose both Indian and foreign companies, and its not that if an Indian company were to make coca cola I would approve that because as far as I’m concerned cold drinks are not essential, what is essential is that the farmers of our country get seeds and water and fertilizer and electricity. Because these farmers are the foundation stone of our country. And because of them, millions of other country men can find employment and food grains. With this, I end my speech, Victory be to Socialism. Aflatoon: Thank you Comrade, Chamchal Mokargiji, You have in great detail discussed the policy of globalization which has been operating for the last ten years, and which is being publicized by Atal Bihari Vajpayee through television, after spending two hundred crore rupees on an add campaign. Chamchalji has put before you the real picture about Bharat Udai (India Shining.) Comrades, I would like to tell you before I invite our last speaker that the

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Golden Quadrangle scheme which was discussed here just now many of you must have gone to Delhi and between Delhi and Jaipur there is a highway which is part of this golden quadrangle. On this highway, foreign cars that our coming into our country with each passing day run at speeds of hundred kilometers per hour. But if a car comes to NOIDA (area next to Delhi) from Delhi the car owner has to pay a toll tax of rupees twenty. And if a bus goes to Haryana from Delhi, the bus owner has to pay rupees 150 as a toll tax and you can’t cross over into the other state until you have paid the toll tax. A road about which it is said that it is as smooth as the cheek of Hemamalani (actress). Do you know the condition of the roads which link villages to the main highways? And even with respect to the highways that are being built the fact to remember is that after independence when roads were built in this country millions of people used to get employment in building them and they used to be farmers with time to spare between harvests. Such a farmer used to think to himself, “when a road is about to be made then my cooperation would be asked for and I would find employment.” But in the golden quadrangle scheme, it is being built right in your neighborhood and the G.T road is a part of it. The national highway authority has paid compensation for cutting down twenty five thousand trees just within the Benaras area alone. And farmers and laborers are not required to make these roads, the entire work is being done by machines. And Chamchalji discussed that when he said that the money that is coming for making these roads is alone taken from the world bank, and our cooperation has already crossed a hundred million and when a child is born in India he or she carries a debt burden of sixty thousand rupees as foreign debt. And we say India is rising. All this development is being done for those who have salaries of 100,000 rupees or 150,000 rupees or 350,000 rupees a month. They are highly placed officials of multinational corporations. For them, this policy is definitely productive because if they go for medical treatment in Benaras they will go to the heritage hospital and if they go for treatment in Delhi or Bombay they will go to the Apollo hospital or they would go to the Hinduja hospital where it costs thousands of rupees for a single bed per day. No child of a farmer can get treated there. Comrades, can this dual system coexist? Comrades, the Kalyan Singh government of U.P gave ten crore rupees to Lalji Rai to make this heritage hospital and this money came from my pocket and yours. And thus was this Heritage hospital made. Kalyan Singh came here to inaugurate this hospital. If heritage hospital exists then the condition of the Kabir Chaura hospital (government hospital) will always be bad or worse, because both systems cannot exist side by side. The government should decide its priorities. And decide upon the state of medical treatment of the common people of also of their education and health. The government will have to think about these areas and get its priorities right. Today, education, health and medical treatment are available only for a handful of people. If you simply create facilities for the advantaged and claim that the country is progressing, then be sure that the public is not going to be taken in by this ruse. The bad state of the lives of the common people is not going to be improved by the razzledazzle of such development. And with these words, I would like to invite the national president of Samamajwadi Jan Parishad, who is also the head of department of the social science department of Sampurnand Sanskriti University, Dr. Somnat Trapathi to come and present his views before us. Dr. Somnat Trapathi: The Chairmen of this meeting and the members of Jan Parishad present here and brothers, You have been listening to this debate at this street corner of Lanka for quite some time now. It is nothing but coincidence that on one hand all the political parties of the country are trying to sway public opinion in their favor, and on the other hand a tiny section of the public whose ideas are broad based whose actions are equally broad based is among you right now to create a dialogue against the dangerous policies of the government hell-bent upon destroying common people. On one hand, we received news about the parliament getting dissolved, and on the same day the joint parliamentary committee headed by Sharad Pawar that had been formed to investigate the presence of pesticides in coca cola and Pepsi cola and other soft drinks and to find out if or not these drinks contained levels of pesticides that are harmful to the health of people, gave its report. As long as elections were

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not on the table, the committee did not submit its report, even though the committee had been formed a long time ago. (Tape cut off, then continues his speech later) Those who do not have basic needs will feel bad, and those who have ten pairs of shoes and fancy sari’s and who live in palaces will feel good. I want that you should put up the next parliament election as a fight between feel good and feel bad. All of you should teach the feel good people a lesson otherwise this country will not survive. The talk about changing the constitution did not come up to benefit to disadvantage any political group, but because they changed all the policies that they wanted to change, they changed the patent laws they changed the policy regarding textiles, they also began to change the policy of water, but there are many policies that cannot be changed in the parliament because the constitution orders otherwise. Sections thirty eight to fifty one of the fourth schedule of the constitution call for a social welfare state which would create laws based on equality. But the economic policies that are going on and agricultural policy that is being introduced, the textile policy that is being introduced are all meant to create disparity. How can a policy based on disparity work when the constitution demands equality? That is why they feel the need to amend the constitution. The matter had reached the level where they were willing to amend the constitution; it is a condition similar to the saying in the Panchatantra1 which describes an iron smith cutting a piece of wood into two halves using his skill. And when he went for lunch he left the log half split with the blade of the axe embedded in the split. And a monkey came and decided to imitate the action of the iron smith by sitting atop the log and trying to saw it. And the monkey sat on the log right over the split and his private parts got trapped in the rift and when the monkey extracted the axe from the rift, the rift closed and his private parts got squeezed and he died. This is the condition of the people who would amend the constitution. Just like that monkey, they said that they would change the constitution. So when matters come to such a head that in order to create a society based on disparity some people would be willing to go to the extent of changing the constitution what can you except from such a government? Your only option is to change that government, and replace it. And from time to time people have replaced governments, once in 1968 when in eleven states of the country the congress government was defeated in the election and again in 1977 when the forty year rule of congress was replaced by the people. A similar time has come now, as the issues raised by Jai Prakash Narayan2 have come to an end, has the problem of unemployment been solved? Has cheap and equal education for all become a reality? Has the health promised to everyone come about? No. Things have become worse. Just now, Aflatoon told you about the state of our health, with the example of the Heritage hospital. One of our comrades told you about the state of education. There was a time when we used to give out the slogan “Dual education will not be tolerated. And now a university called Manipal University has been created where the tuition fee is 25,000 rupees a month. Can anyone in Benaras who works at a salaried job send his children to study at Manipal University? And if someone from India who has a well paying job cannot afford to send his children to Manipal University, then for whom has this university been created? Universities like Manipal are created for those who earn black money, people w ho earn money through corruption, it is for their children Manipal University has been created. They have changed our culture entirely. There was a time when people in villages used to get together and collectively open a school and today who is opening schools? He would usually be a retired income tax commissioner or a retired executive engineer would use his money earned through corruption to open a school. The Delhi public3 school and all such schools have been made with such money, with money stolen from the general public; education is being given to the children of ‘feel good’ people, and what is the state of government hospitals today? In government hospitals, many times a
1 2

Old Indian Fables Famous socialist of the 1970’s who opposed Indira Gandhi 3 In India public/private school is opposite meaning then in the U.S; public means a privately paid for and owned school.

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When this company came to our village. But if you were to install a powerful water pump in the same well and let the pump run for twenty four hours a day you can very well imagine whether or not the water level of that well would go down. This company is still illegally occupying land belonging to our village. I would invite comrade Nandalal who is the convener of the Lok Samiti and a prominent figure in the agitation against coca cola.(tape cuts off) I would also like to say that when the CSE1 report came. How people are dying. let anyone come forward and tell me. the company has extracted so much water from there that the water level has gone down to 40 feet. my village is 25 kilometers from the coca cola plant. we need to go to places where they have set up their plants to see the ground reality. and the court has ordered the company to vacate this land but they have not yet vacated that land. I would like to ask not if you would be willing to use products like these which benefit no one and instead tell you that wherever their factories have been set up the farmers of those areas are struggling against these companies. you don’t need to boycott Coke and Pepsi simply on the basis of the joint parliamentary committee report. In the last five years. so how can they support your ‘feel good?’ They have changed the common mans culture which people used to call by names such as Indian culture or Civilized man’s culture. you will find that they have not given permanent employment to even one person. Time is short. what they normally say to the villages is that they promise employment to the local people. people like Sachin Tendulakar (famous 1 Center for Science and Environment 80 . and I would request him to be brief in his speech because this meeting has been going on for too long and after the speech he should present his revolutionary song along with his companions. by bringing about mind change. We extract water from our wells only according to our needs and this does not affect the level of the water at all.then you will stop drinking them simply because they would hurt your health or also because by drinking them you are practically drinking the blood of the farmers of those areas. this is what it promised us. All the forty or fifty people that work there have been called from Bihar or Gurgaon. but instead we need to see the real character of these companies. Aflatoon: A group of struggling young men have arrived just now. They promised to give employment to seventy five percent of the village population. Nandalal: Instead of talking too much. I would like to tell you that this company extracts 25 Lakh (25 hundred thousand liters) of water every day in Mehandiganj. On the other hand. You go there and see for yourselves the condition of those villages and also the condition of the farmers there and then decide for yourself that if you continue to drink Pepsi or coca cola. but rather we need to drive them out of our country. we would present our views through a song. due to the products of these companies. If you go there and inquire from the people. the report that came out sixth july stating that the coca cola and peps that we drink contained poison in them. but I want to tell you one more thing. and people should not drink them because numerous kinds of dangerous diseases arise from drinking them. This Pepsi and coca cola has been created out of the blood of the farmers of those areas. we need to see how local people are being affected by these companies. I am a resident of Mehandiganj Village. We don’t need to get into the controversy whether or not their drinks are pure or impure. But I want to say one thing to you. not to give you jobs.number of people who visit hospitals like heritage lie in verandas without hospital beds. I would request that now the time has come for us to completely boycott these companies. because even if their drinks are pure. and I would request all of you. We need to realize that these big multinationals come here to take away your occupation. people who we love and cherish. I live in such a village. Our minds are clouded by such propaganda and we need to remove this illusion from our minds. And I would like all of you to welcome this feisty young man with applause. I want to tell you that when such companies go to a village. You can imagine for yourself what would be the condition of a place where 25 hundred thousand liters of water is extracted every day.

no one has gotten back to them. I would like to ask them. hardly anything was mentioned about the local problems being faced in Mehandiganj.’ What benefit can they possibly tell you except that the cricketer would say ‘by drinking this you will be able to score a six just as I do. That’s why we should oppose these drinks on both levels with my Lok Samiti companions I want to sink an exhortation song. On March 9th 1 Full song was not recorded due to a tape problem but this is a part of it 81 .’ If there’s any other benefit beyond this I would like any young man here to come forward and tell me about it. I would sing this song and would like you to repeat after me. Today we need to struggle and fulfill our responsibility towards creating a new India. Seven months later. whether ‘if there is no harm in drinking these products. In September and November Lok Samiti was told by the District Magistrate that a committee would be formed to evaluate their pleas and a response would be given to them within a month. Pepsi cola will not do’ In the land of milk and yogurt. So I believe that you would also have to boycott such people who are making us drink this poison by lending their credibility to such products. And you will become as strong as I am.cricketer) or Aishwarwa Rai (famous actress) began to tell us through ads that there was no harm in drinking these products. then tell me about one single benefit that can be had from drinking them. And I would like everyone to sing with us: Comrades I salute you Brothers I salute you Sister I salute you The freedoms of the country are calling out to you Casteist shackles are jangling Save the freedoms and break the shackles The lamp is going out Fill it with love So that the country may bloom And the Indian may sing out There is a call out going out all over the world“You alone have the rein of the country in your hands” The torch of the country is in our hands alone Comrades I salute you Brothers I salute you Comrades I salute you Brothers I salute you Sisters I salute you1 Slogan after song: ‘In the country of milk and yogurt. Aside from Nandalal’s speech. coca cola will not do These were the speeches presented at the meeting.

M called us he asked us to furnish evidence in support of our claims. 82 . So the court said that the company should pay the government three crore sixty Lakh rupees. But just two months later they told the industry department that their property was worth 31 core rupees.1 When the D. In the meeting he asked us to submit evidence as to whose harvest has been ruined and which crops have been ruined. He also asked us to give proof of the reduction in the groundwater level. Only after we began our agitation against it did the company deposit this amount. And the demand is simply that coca cola should move away from their land because the groundwater level is down. That’s why we decided to surround the A. And the courts judgment came out on 3rd march that the company has underpaid stamp duty by this amount and it should also pay an equal amount as penalty. But the administration did not give a report even though three months have passed. So the additional city magistrate (fourth) took our petition and assured us that he will talk to the district magistrate and speed up the enquiry process so that the committee will give its report soon.000 rupees than they will straight away arrest me and put me in a lock up for 13 days.and I have no hesitation in saying that. A farmer of the village submitted a writ petition against this malpractice. We have told them that if they don’t take any action within a month then we will take direct action against the company. After this the Coca cola company appealed in the high court and then the supreme court but it lost everywhere. But we have given them one months time. So. But on the 9th march the governor of the state had come to Benaras so all the officials had gone to receive him and there was no one there in the office. March 15th 2004. 1 Nandalal Master. But this company stole 3 crore rupees and yet neither the media nor the administration said anything about this. We had alleged that the plant had illegally occupied some land belonging to the Gram Sabha. This enquiry committee had been set up on fourteenth September. And the company should pay damages for the harm that has come to our crops. That’s the state of affairs here. So the D. Nandalal explains: On the ninth of March we took our a bicycle procession to the district magistrates office because the district magistrate has entrusted the additional district magistrate (administration) the job of enquiring into this matter. Later on the court allowed them to pay this amount in installments and the first installment was supposed to be one crore forty seven Lakh rupees. And on that basis they gave the government stamp duty worth rupees 50 Lakh (1 Lakh= 100. Even today the coca cola plant is built on illegally occupied land. the district magistrate called both the parties. We asked him to give us one week’s time to finish the evidence and within a week we gave him all the records. He called us and also the people of the coca cola plant. He told us that he would inform us pretty soon about what is going on. (60 ½ million rupees).M who was holding the enquiry. And our government has become so incompetent. asked us to give proof of which land had been occupied.if I owe the government 10.M.000). The company has occupied the Chak Road [road which came out as result of land rationalization process? One of the court gentlemen consents to the fact that this plant did not originally belong to the coca cola company.D. At the time of buying the coca cola company declared that they were buying this property for 6 and a half crore rupees. We have given them evidence showing how the illegal occupation has been done. Earlier it was owned by someone else.2004 about 50 Mehandiganj villagers road their bikes from the village to the district headquarters to demand to be heard. And in 1995 this plant was owned by the thumbs up drink (Parle) and in 1999 the coca cola company bought it from them. When the authorities set up an enquiry committee they told us that the committee will submit the report within a month. on this basis the company had paid the government 1 ½ crore rupees less as stamp duty. On 11th November 2003. But until now we have not received any word from them. 2003.

What I put up in the meeting. By showing them how much the coca cola company was damaging there land. Nandalal Master expects that the police will beat the agitators again and will possibly put them in prison.1 1 Neha. Only if you raise their issues. That is because it is causing pollution. Neha did an evaluation in the village and of the movement and found that while activists wanted the company to close. raising their issues. only then will they come with you. the issues that are of personal concern to them. and I did say that if the people of the village will not participate in this movement then it won’t go very far. a large portion of villagers did not. She found that these villagers only wanted the pollution to stop and for the company to provide maximum employment to villagers. But if you only say that coca cola is a multinational company so it should leave India. then they won’t come with you on a large scale. Some of these people had also organized a sit in at the local court compound and I also talked to some of those people and I also attended some of the meetings. This was the only thing that I said to them. Durga Kund Varanasi. which is that the Samajwadi Jan Parishad and others are working on the motto of that the Coca Cola factory should be removed from there. For example the issue of pollution. They had not even understood this issue very well [multinationals]. then on April 20th direct action will be taken against the plant. people from the village have also received employment there. then they have no objection [to coca cola staying. On that basis I have formed a certain opinion about them. my only opposition to them was that I said that the movement will not go very far until the people of the village are mobilized to this level. Because they felt that there were also many benefits [from the plant]. That’s why they wanted.the pollution issue is a very big issue. They were also getting jobs there.] This is what I learned from talking to them. it is using the local groundwater and it is a multinational company so they should go from here. I heard this in the meetings and when I talked to the local people their only concern which was forcing them to want coca cola to leave the area was that their fields surrounding the plant were getting polluted by trash. If they would stop polluting the land. There is a big contradiction between what those people who are working in the plant think and what the villages think.If the District Magistrate does not get back to them. I mean. Issues Within the Mehandiganj/Benaras Anti-Coca Cola Movement and Some Personal Opinion: In September 2003. 83 . February 22nd. 2004. And if you have to involve the villagers in this movement then you will have to take their opinion into consideration. Their main demand was that if this plant was in operation then it should stop polluting the area and give maximum possible employment to the people of the village. if you will use those issues and then explain to them why coca cola is so bad for them. I was also there in the meeting.

1 When asked what they would have done if Nandalal Master had not come to help them. Malti answered: What could we have done in that case [If Nandalal had not led them in the movement]? How far could we have possibly reached without him [Nandalal]? The only thing we could have done was indulge in assault and battery. Those who attended returned to Mehandiganj and educated those who were not able to attend. We women would have taken up rocks and pelted the factory guards with them whenever we saw them. March 15th 2004. Thus it makes sense 1 2 Malti. When asked if the agitations began before or after the organization Lok Chetana Samiti came to them began. Now most of the villagers either want the plant shut down or completely support those who are trying to get the plant shut down. March 15th 2004. Neha too admits that there has been an opinion change and that this is a good thing. attend agitations.As time went by after Neha had done her report. villagers slowly became more involved and educated in the issue to the point of saying what has been quoted in the above pages about coca cola. How can we chase them away? It is not within our power to do so. After two hundred villagers attended the World Social Forum 2004 in Mumbai there has been an opinion change at a very large level.2 Many of the women that I talked with support the movement. 84 . And we would have cursed them. There was no idea of doing anything before that. Earlier there was no such idea. but sound weary about the ability to do these things on their own. This is all that we could have done. Some villagers admit that before they were empowered by organizations that they did not even consider the fact that they had the power to agitate against the plant. Yet as mentioned earlier there are those receiving money from the plant who are against the movement. Mehandiganj. two women answer: It [the agitation] has started only after the organizations came. There was nothing before that. Sukhdei. Now in place after place after place people are thinking about it. People are discussing with each other in place after place. Mehandiganj Village. Now there is a lot of organization and unity. Village. To make them go away.

We don’t want them to give us jobs. but some people take the jobs and do not attend the agitations.why Neha found that the villagers did not have a strong opinion on the matter in September. March 15th 2004. many people refuse jobs and oppose the plant. Mehandiganj. 85 . Other woman: we don’t want jobs. Another woman: how will we feed our families if they only hire us for four2 months in a year? Other woman: 3 months. Mehandiganj. 3 months/120 days is the actual amount of time for the contract labor 3 Conversation between women. The machines are going on day and night. In my family the rule is only he who slogs will eat. 24 hours a day. as it was just the beginning of the long series of protests as well as before the villagers traveled to Bombay for the World Social Forum.3 And a quote from Vidya: Yes we want to drive them away. Neha had found that the villagers were okay with Coca Cola staying if they were given jobs but now this is not the case with many people. we don’t want their jobs. all we want that the factory should be closed down. Other woman: what will we do with jobs if our farming becomes barren? Another woman: its so hot these days and they are sucking away all the water. We only want them to leave. March 15th 2004.1 And another clip of a conversation: Other woman: god knows how many tons of water they are drawing. However villagers also stress that the village is split on the issue. Woman: It should close down. 1 2 Conversation between women. Before. Woman: we are getting ruined. we don’t want their jobs. They’ll give you a job for three months and then kick you out. Woman: Tell them that we don’t want jobs. we only want that the factory should close down. We don’t want them to give salaried jobs to our men folk or children.

then would the villagers want the company to stay? A few woman answered: Woman: We would want them to produce something else.Vidya. won’t they? Because everyone will starve for water. 86 . March 15th 2004. And it also causes suffering and disease. Provided. Woman from Mehandiganj. Just see there is a biscuit factory and a steel utensil factory near the Limca [coca cola] factory. Because this thing [coca cola production] makes us do a lot of penance. If this company would start producing anything except Limca [soft drinks]. Mehandiganj Village. If they stop producing Limca [soda] and open some other factory. Another woman: no one will complain about that. March 15th. but they do not actively participate in the movement. These same villagers also support the movement to shut down the bottling plant. then that will be fine. When asked if the company were to stop polluting and taking groundwater etc. Or a factory to make steel kitchen utensils.2 1 2 Conversation between Women. we have no problem with that. But we don’t have any problems with them. We are fed up of paying for medicines for the different ailments. Woman: Yes.1 In another interview. it sucks up all the groundwater using big machines. The villagers not as informed about the issues say that if the company stops polluting and extracting water then it can stay. Because when it produces this drink. Many people seem to agree with this idea as it would give them employment but not at the expense of their land and health. someone else requested a new factory as well. they stop making it. these things are being produced right next to this Limca [coca cola] factory. Then the children and the cattle will die. There is a biscuit factory and a steel glass factory. or anything else. a biscuit factory. as well as the other women in the above interviews all attended the world social forum in January and attend the agitations in front of the plant. These things are being produced. Because the huge machines and the giant tube wells that they use to suck water will make all our wells go dry and none of our pumping sets will yield water and our farming will go dry. Woman: In fact. 2004. Woman in background: a biscuit factory.

We had talked to Nandalal and Ram Narayan Patel in the indoor room of the Lok Samiti building. Malti: Yea. He came to know only later. they come with us. Woman: The men don’t go because if they go there a fight could break out. Malti: Her men folk are in Calcutta. Woman: we are Pragapati’s1 and our men folk are not here. Right now they are not here and they’ll come back at 9:00 pm or 10:00 pm. Neha: Right from the time that we have been wandering in the village. only woman are talking. how will we eat? 1 The Potter Caste 87 . the women answered: Women: They don’t go. then why would we be so helpless? Malti: Men of my household had gone to Bombay (the world social forum). my sons had gone to Bombay. The men say nothing at all. so where will they find the time to take part in this? They will come back at 8:00 p. Neha: Do they also go with you to agitate? Women: Yes. if they don’t work. but my son had gone to Bombay. In the recent agitation. When we inquired about this.m. violence is not likely to take place. my son would have gone to take part but he did not know about it. they are abroad (out of town.While Neha and I were in Mehandiganj we realized that we were only talking to women. when it comes to going to fight. Woman: They are labor class men. When women go. yet wandering through the village we only encountered women.) Women: In Calcutta. Woman: If only the men of our village had stood up for this cause. Woman: The men know nothing so what can they talk about? Women: (all laugh) Woman: The men go to their daily labor work or to their regular jobs.

March 15th. Malti: The pradhan (head man/chief) of the village in collusion with the company. and some men work at weaving. We have only this much wheat in our farm.Malti: Just look at this. then it will be easier to shut down the plant. Malti: But the whole village is not united on this issue you see. Woman: We have to keep our stomachs running. because he works at carrying debris and construction material on his head to and from construction sites. 2003. Almost all of the workers interviewed admitted that if working there is causing problems for the village then they would quit. Malti: The fact is that the powers that be of the village are taking bribes from the company to keep silent. or wherever required. This is because if it weren’t for him the company may not have built the pipeline to dispose of the waste elsewhere.2 Now a large portion of the village wants the plant shut down. Villagers say that their village is not united on this issue. Other men of the village work digging pits with pick axes. yes. Neha: You mean people of the village are also in collusion with the company? Women: Yes. you see. At the end of the day you need at least one square meal. Woman: That is what is causing the problem. but that once the village is united. 88 . Many of the women that I have spoken with say that they have left it all up to Nandalal and that they will do whatever he says. Neha: Where does your husband go to work? Woman: In the city of Benaras1. thenWoman: They will be driven away within a minute. If the whole village unites. Those who do not want it shut down are either receiving bribe money or employment from the company. 1 2 An unofficial but more commonly used name for Varanasi Conversation between women at Mehandiganj Village.

exploitation of workers and dumping of waste into bodies of water that lead to the Ganga are things that happen all over India. This issue is an important one to be explored. in an article in Danik Jagrin. Moreover. then there was no way that we would not have got a chak road to enter and leave our village. the villagers cannot go through with as intense of a protest as they would like to. So it is exactly as how the women have put it. Nandalal 1 Village Council 89 . nothing has been done about these act violations because the government has looked the other way. Due to the lack of laws and regulations implemented during the economic reforms. Woman: The Pradhan sold the gram sabha land and the land of Chak Rd. Evasion of stamp duty. with a corrupt Pradhan. disputes over landownership. to the Limca factory and became uninvolved in this matter. Still. some Panchayat1 members took bribes as well. Yet it must be mentioned that this does not only happen with multinational companies. As explained earlier in the paper. So then how can this be considered an illegal land occupation? Furthermore. both national and multinational companies can operate in corrupt ways. The village women allege that the Pradhan accepted bribes from the company and sold the land belonging to the Gram Sabha. Woman in background: The pradhan is actually sitting tight having taken a bundle of money from the company. They are guilty because these acts go against the Water Pollution Control act and the General liability act. it is stated that the Pradhan protested along with Samajwadi Jan Parishad against Coca Cola. The company is taking advantage of a corrupt system that already existed in the village.Malti: If our pradhan had stood up for us.the powers that be are in collusion with the company. What the company is actually guilty of pertains to the dumping of polluted water onto the village land and the passing out of toxic waste as fertilizer.

Mehandiganj Village. Still. They are for the shutting down of the plant when asked but do not openly state this opinion as much as the first group. 90 .1 The second group is made of villagers who support the movement. more Panchayat members are seeing that the problems of the bottling plant outweigh the benefits and have begun to support the movement more actively. go to agitations when they are told it is time. but not all of them are against Coca Cola either. As time passes. March 15th 2004. but here is one more: When the company will leave the atmosphere here will become as it was earlier. The splitting places the village into four separate groups. As for having another factory in the village. the water that was coming into your fields? What other problems do you have? 1 Ram Narayan Patel. they are for it but want one that is not owned by Coca Cola. there is a splitting in the village on this issue. and other villagers. And we will begin to live happily.explained that not all of the Panchayat is bad. are against groundwater extraction but now that the polluted water has stopped being thrown in their field they are not as active as before about their opposition to the company. actively support the movement and believe that when the plant closes down then they can resume living a peaceful life. Goun Bachao members and other villagers who want the plant to shut down. In any case. they support the other villagers who are trying to close down the plant and go to agitations from time to time. Many of the quotes throughout the paper represent this group. The first group is made of the Lok Samiti members. They attend the agitations. Goun Bachao. Following is a clip from the interview that represents this group: Neha: What other problems do you have? The problem of the water has been removed. Some of them took money as bribes but some of them protested along with Lok Samiti.

Mehandiganj Village. The property that we had which was getting damaged from their water is safe from it now. Neha: So you don’t have any problems anymore? Sukhdei: No. Neha: So now you don’t have any more problems with the bottling plant? Sukhdei: No.1 The third group is made of villagers who opposed the plant when the polluted water was being dumped. but say that if the plant were to produce something else then it could stay. we don’t have any more problems.” it is signified that this group is not as adamant about closing down the coca cola company itself as the first two groups are. Another woman: the only problem is that the water that we are getting has diminished in quantity. Neha: Then why is the agitation still going on? Sukhdei: what? Neha: The agitation is still going on. Other woman: For example Sukhdei: if the factory does not close down. We have no problem with polluted water anymore. The fourth group are made of a portion of those who work for the plant or whose families 1 Conversation between Women. Neha: Why do you people want to get it closed down? Sukhdei: It will be a good thing if it closes down. Sukhdei: Why not? The agitation will not stop until they close down the plant. then we will die for want of even a single drop off water. Within the statement “they would have to produce something else.Sukhdei: We aren’t having any other real problem now. March 15th 2004. People in this group still support the efforts of the anti-coca cola movement but do not actively attend protests. oppose groundwater extraction. 91 . Now they have made the water in the fields flow to a different place. there are no more problems.

There was also a caste factor involved here as well. The company fired them and since they were not allowing the front gate to be opened the company had the boundary wall of the backside of the plant broken down and secretly smuggled in workers from Mehandiganj. Bhikaripur does not have a strong protest movement right now because just as it two almost three years for Mehandiganj to see the ill affects of the pollution on their fields. And using this caste divide the company was successful in breaking the protest movement against it by people of Bhikaripur and it fired 11 people who were leading the movement against it. because people of Bhikaripur and Mehandiganj predominantly belong to different castes. as several women have said they are known to do. The production went on in this matter. Now that the hot season is beginning the company will be dumping more polluted water into the pipeline 1 Nandalal Master. Another problem is the split of the different villages affected by the bottling plant. and Bhikaripur by Yadavs. April 9th 2004. The fifth group is made of those receiving bribe money and employment from the plant. Then the company told people of Mehandiganj that people of Bhikaripur were not letting them work in the plant. then they tried to stop them from entering into the plant. These people are against the movement and some mock the agitations. And when people of Bhikaripur realized that people from Mehandiganj were entering the plant from the backdoor to work there instead of showing solidarity with the Bhikaripur people. Production has also greatly lowered ever since the pesticides reports came out and it was also lower in the cold season. 92 . Durga Kund. so it will take for Bhikaripur. Mehandiganj is mostly populated by the Patels. And the security guards of the company beat the 11 ring leaders of the Bhikaripur protest with sticks and the company also lodged criminal lawsuits against these eleven people and these lawsuits are still going on.1 Regardless of this divide. In this way the company created a rift between people of Bhikaripur and Mehandiganj. Nandalal says that Lok Samiti is prepared to help fight for Bhikaripur. Nandlal alleges that the company has used caste differences to break what could have been a stronger people’s movement apart: Many people from Bhikaripur were working in the plant and they had staged a sit-in for one full week and during this time they [the protesters] didn’t allow the gate of the company to be open and this protest was in demand for better working conditions in the plant. The company told people of Mehandiganj that hands forth only they and not people by Bhikaripur would be employed by the company.work for the plant. Many of them oppose the plant but due to financial compensation and jobs they do not actively support the movement.

April 9th 2004. Mehandiganj. they discussed the socio-political scenario of India and the local issues were hardly raised. Nandalal answered the question I was thinking without my having to ask: If the production had been going on. it would still extract groundwater which would still inevitably destroy the village’s access to water and the quality of their wells. I found out through interviews that the Parle plant in Mehandiganj was never in production because the Gram Panchayat had made a lawsuit against them.as they will be producing more soft drinks. When I first began research I was unsure why the Coca Cola plant was protested but not the Parle bottling plant. However there is a problem that the Pradhans have been coaxed in some way or another to oppose the people’s movement: We have kept in close touch with the villages of Bhikaripur about this. we have also contacted people of Bengalipur village. Its not that it was an Indian company so it would not have thrown pollution. and just yesterday I went and met the Pradhan of Bengalipur village and this Pradhan informed me that the company had made all the village Pradhans of surrounding villages give in writing saying that they were against the peoples movement against the company. Organizations and grassroots parties such as Samajwadi Jan Parishad want the plant to close because it is multinational. 2004. They would have spread a similar pollution. Lok Samiti. Nandalal believes that in ten or fifteen days the affects will become apparent. Durga Kund. April 2nd. they would have also spread pollution. At the anti-coca cola rally. Goun Bachao. Then. But this Pradhan refused to write this. Moreover. They seem to want all multinational companies to quit India.1 The last problem is regarding the outside activists who do not seem to be supporting the village as much as they support the struggle against multinationals. and many villagers want the plant to close down not because they are multinational but because even if it were to offer jobs. even if it were to try to better its ways.2 1 2 Nandalal Master. Nandalal. they acknowledge this is not something that is happening because the company is multinational. 93 . as mentioned in an earlier chapter.

Overall the local part of the Mehandiganj anti-coca cola movement has grown quite strong. Especially if some say that they do not mind one being there and others say that they want one there. There remains a problem that the population in the village is very large. The demand for their weaving work is not so large. it should be noted how great of a disruption in life this company has caused. 94 . but their protests are based upon the detrimental affects that the company’s actions have imposed upon their land and community. It should not be a factory that damages the villages land in any way shape or form. Conclusion: In general. Once the city movement unites with the village movement and the villages unite with each other it could become even stronger. However. Furthermore. put peoples’ health in danger and are putting the aquifers and water tables at risk of depletion.Nandalal and Lok Samiti’s protest against Coca Cola is not because it is a multinational company. It is possible that the village would benefit from a factory being near their village. destroyed livelihoods. They have split villages and families. There is no simple solution. It is true that they see the problems that multinational companies can bring to a village and to their country. the existing regulations must be adhered to. there must be better regulations about environmental and community impact in order for the same problems not to arise.

now that the company has built a pipeline to dispose of polluted water. These adjustments make it so the government should somewhat overlook corrupt activity of multinational companies. If the district magistrate does not respond to Lok Samiti by April 20th. The actions of this company are part of a larger system of neoliberalism and exploitation. Perhaps after the elections some change will come about. The government is not doing their job to pressure the company into giving compensation for the destroyed land. If 95 . Until the government begins placing regulations on such companies then this pattern will continue.The farmers deserve compensation from the money and crops that they have lost. How long is this process going to continue? It is a process of the government saying they will get back to them but not. until the government begins to prosecute those who have broken existing regulations then this will continue. Furthermore. Yet this is problem because India is an indebted country and in the nineties India accepted the structural adjustment program terms that come along with taking IMF and World Bank loans. Similary. but until the elections there is no way the plant will be shut down. the water is sent to the Bhikaripur/Bengalipur border and will soon destroy that land. Due to this demand the company could move somewhere else and continue their harmful operations in another village. If Coca Cola were to leave. then what is to say the Pradhan who accepted bribes will not allow another corrupt factory to come and keep silent again? If the plant were to shut down. many people in Benaras would be angry about the inaccessibility of coca cola and like drinks. nor are they penalizing them for breaking the water pollution control act. villagers deserve compensation for their land that has been destroyed. then direct action will be taken against the factory. The fact is that it is not just coca cola who is corrupt. of people agitating and getting beaten by the police while meanwhile the village and the earth are suffering.

the condition of the villages surrounding the Coca Cola bottling plant will progressively worsen. Kerala is not an example to be used to compare to other states in India because Kerala of all states is most concerned with environmental issues. Therefore if another city rally were held. local activists and outside activists. city people and village people would link together in this movement. However.people start caring too much about the environment then they can forget about investment. So the problem is even larger. If enough lobbying is done over time to gain governmental help. one where farmers and villagers spoke about water depletion and pollution maybe the people in the city would think differently then they would when hearing a coca cola rally discuss the upcoming elections. Otherwise. then it is possible for the plant to get shut down. The plant will not be shut down without the government helps. The local movement in Mehandiganj and the National Alliance of Peoples Movements remain a beacon of hope for those whose lives are made worse from the Coca-Cola Company. it happened in Kerala and since in India states can hold their own power it is possible to shut down the plant. If more people in the city were to support the movement then the demand for the drinks in the city would go down and it would be easier to get the plant shut down. the movement will be at a halt.then it would be possible to shut down the plant as it was in Kerala. If everyoneBhikaripur and Mehandiganj. However. Until the outside organizations help with mobilizing people at the local level. 96 .

All have been translated from Hindi and Bhojpuri to English by Vimelji Mehra.I went to Mehandiganj along with Neha. due to which mango orchards. 2004. People used to have fevers and things like that. it seems that the patty crop will be very good but when the crop ripens you find that it has no grains in it. The fever used to take months to cure. March 15th. From the look of it. Mehandiganj Village. the crops of chick peas and peas and wheat have all been destroyed. Neha: What type of problems did they face? Can you tell us more about the illnesses that they suffered and how they happened? Ram Narayan Patel: It was like an epidemic of vomiting and diarrhea. Due to the polluted water mosquitoes have spread everywhere and due to the air pollution caused by them people have faced a lot of problems. Many such patients went to the city to get treated. Shira: Since the bottling plant has come into operation how has your life and the lives of other farmers changed? Ram Narayan Patel: Ever since the coca Cola Company has come here all of us including farmers and villagers are facing a lot of problems. Neha: So you believe that due to the coca cola plant the pollution here has increased a lot. So much so that even the patty crop has been hurt.Appendix: These are the main interviews which have been conducted. 97 . I had a set of questions that I wanted to ask and during the answers she helped come up with more questions to ask since her Hindi skill is obviously better than mine. Polluted water from the plant has spread in the fields of the farmers over an area of at least 50 acres.

this is the kind of friction they have caused here. They said to the other group of people “come on. Shira: How? Ram Narayan Patel: When some people were working in the plant. a physically fight. It has reduced out groundwater level.” So if you do that in a village. Because the Coca cola company made them fight. like what other changes have come about in the village and the life of the village from the time when the coca cola plant was not here? Ram Narayan Patel: When the Coca Cola plant was not here then the level of water was quite high. So the company fired them and hired their opponents. And the coca cola company after having come here pitted workers against each other. Neha: So most of the problems are due to it. and they pitted the villagers against each other. is coca cola favoring one side in the law suit? Ram Narayan Patel: No.” The coca cola company has said to both parties bluntly that it is their problem and they will have to work it out by themselves. Neha: So you mean they actually fought each other physically? Ram Narayan Patel: Yes. Neha: What was the demand of the people who agitated? Ram Narayan Patel: They were demanding better livelihood saying that we should get a fair wage because the company used to deduct five or ten rupees from each workers wage every day. that is natural to cause friction in the social set up.Ram Narayan Patel: Yes. right? Ram Narayan Patel: Yes Neha: Will you tell us more about this. But they didn’t give anything like that in the entire year. a lot. They had to submit a bail bond in the court before they could be released. And the law suit went on and it is still going on. but since the coca cola plant has been set up our groundwater level has gone down by at least twenty five feet. they put up some demands which were not met so they organized a sit in and they took out a protest march. At least forty persons were on one side and sixty or seventy persons on the other side. saying that we will give you this money back in the form of either a bonus or a pension fund. And the police intervened. It is your problem. we’ll hire you. Now the company says “you guys work it out among yourselves. And all the people had to submit bail money. As a consequence the villagers fought each other. 98 . and we’ll fire the other people. So now you see. Neha: Is Coca Cola playing any role in this? I mean. So when these people demanded their bonus they fired them and hired the other side.

the land is becoming barren. That is why the harvest size has gone down. but these stocks will not yield any rice grains. mango buds refuse to grow on mango trees. Neha: and you were telling us about the paddy stocks that don’t yield any grain Ram Narayan Patel: yes. Neha: This is what we want to know about in more detail. the hay that was produced after the crops has become polluted so the oxen refuse to eat it. Last year the mango crop was very good everywhere else. 99 . and so do the buffalo’s. The land becomes saline. Neha: What affect has it had on the food grains is what she wants to know? Ram Narayan Patel: The harvest has diminished in size. Secondly. but in our village very few mango trees bore fruit.Neha: And what impact has this had on the farms? You were telling us that the patty crop is growing but not wielding any grain? Ram Narayan Patel: yes Neha: what other kind of affects has it had on the farms? Ram Narayan Patel: Wherever the water from the plant has flown in the farms. Neha: So once you people took the garbage from the coca cola plant and put it into your farms as fertilizer? Ram Narayan Patel: Yes we did that. As to what has happened so if you can tell us in detail that would be very nice. Nothing can be grown there after that. Ram Narayan Patel: First of all the harvest size is reduced. by looking at the paddy stocks you will think that the harvest is very good. Neha: And we read in the newspapers that mango orchards have also been affected? Ram Narayan Patel: Yes in the mango orchards. The cattle are not able to eat this hay until we give them hay and animal fodder in the ration of one to two. Neha: Approximately how many farms are affected in this way? Ram Narayan Patel: Approximately 20 acres of farm land.

but still he didn’t listen to us. Shira: And how many villages by the coca cola plant? Ram Narayan Patel: You should think of the entire Benaras district as being affected by the coca cola plant. God knows what he did.Neha: Has the report about it come out yet? Ram Narayan Patel: No it hasn’t come out yet. And we started facing problems. but nothing happened as result. There was a mango tree and a jack fruit tree and both of them withered away when we put the fertilizer in the roots. Neha: So you don’t know what people have to say about this. Then we repeated this process again. Other man: two villages 100 . but no one did anything. Neha: but I mean directly. we sent a petition to the president of India saying that if nothing is done about this then we will sit down for a long sit in. After 48 hours we had a sit in. Then we people created this organization and after that we organized sit-ins and protest marches and whatever it took. even the trees withered away. Then finally. First of all we gave a petition to the district magistrate about the polluted water from the plant. We gave them 48 hours notice. Then we petitioned the chief minister of the state and also the governor of the state. Shira: How many villagers are part of your organization? Ram Narayan Patel: About 50 to 60 people of the village are a part of this organization. They brought this garbage and piled it by the roadside saying that it will work as excellent fertilizer. right? Ram Narayan Patel: no Shira: tell us something about your org? Ram Narayan Patel: Our organization is called the “Goun Bachao Sangharsh Samiti Mehandiganj” (The struggle committee to save the village/ Save the village struggle committee) Neha: What are you people doing and for how long have you been working? Ram Narayan Patel: We have been working in this for the last two years since the time they set up the plant here. So much so that we also sent petitions to the national chiefs of all the national parties. And they brought the leftover garbage and mud to us saying that we should use this as fertilizer for our farms. You know what the fertilizer did? Wherever we put it. This sit in went on for twelve to fifteen days and during this time the company at least extracted the polluted water from the farms using a pump.

So that we may be able to live a peaceful life. And it should go away from here. Other man: Bhikaripur and Mehandiganj. Ram Narayan Patel: But what if people from here start getting jobs in the plant? Ram Narayan Patel: They won’t take them. Neha: But do you think the people who have found employment in the plant would want the company to move from here? Ram Narayan Patel: But where have the people from the village found jobs? They have employed at least 400 people on a daily basis and all of them are from Bihar. Neha: Oh so you mean they have only hired outsiders. Only people from Mehandiganj. the air pollution is going in the entire district! Neha: So the coca cola plant air pollution is going everywhere right? Ram Narayan Patel: Yes it’s going everywhere. Ram Narayan Patel: Because all their work is done on a contract basis. Neha: And how many villages are part of your council? Farmer: Only people of our village are part of this. (ASK AGAIN THE #) Shira: What are your future plans regarding the coca cola plant? Ram Narayan Patel: We are working on just one principle regarding the coca cola plant. Because you only get 50 or 60 rupees per day and who will work for that petty amount? 101 . Neha: How many people would that be roughly? Farmer: Somewhere between 100-125 people or you can say the entire village is involved. Neha: But you were saying that the entire Benaras city is affected by this? How so? Ram Narayan Patel: (Aareh) Hell. That the coca cola plant should close down.Ram Narayan Patel: Yes two villages.

So the D. In the meeting he asked us to submit evidence as to whose harvest has been ruined and which crops have been ruined. 102 . On 11th November 2003.M. I don’t see it that way. When you were asking about what this village Sangharsh Samiti does. because we will derive benefit from it. the district magistrate called both the parties. Neha: Don’t you think that some social organizations are trying to give this movement a different direction? Ram Narayan Patel: No. And this committee fights only against the coca cola plant.S against the coca cola plant. And I have the records with me if you want I’ll give them to you. Whichever social organization takes part in this movement does so only in order to safeguard our interests. This enquiry committee had been set up on fourteenth September. we are associated with social organizations. But yes. When they became distraught with the affects of the coca cola plant so they decided to fight it collectively. so I want to tell you that it is not a registered organization. Ram Narayan Patel: But politicians are not associated with our movement. Then they got together and formed this Goun Bachao S. We asked him to give us one week’s time to finish the evidence and within a week we gave him all the records. what would you like to do for that Shira: in your view Ram Narayan Patel: When the company will leave the atmosphere here will become as it was earlier. He called us and also the people of the coca cola plant. Nor do we want that politicians should associate themselves with our movement. And we will begin to live happily.Shira: In your opinion what should be done to set everything right? Neha: So that everything becomes as it was. Shira: In your experience what have been the benefits and drawbacks of being associated with any political party or social organization? Neha: Because political organizations are also associated with this movement. Shira: What was the last mans name? NandaLal: Raj Narayan Patel. 2003. asked us to give proof of which land had been occupied. He is a farmer of this village. Nandalal Master: On the ninth of March we took our bicycle procession to the district magistrate’s office because the district magistrate has entrusted the additional district magistrate (administration) the job of enquiring into this matter. We had alleged that the plant had illegally occupied some land belonging to the Gram Sabha. He also asked us to give proof of the reduction in the groundwater level.

But we have given them one month’s time.D.Nandalal: and the demand is simply that coca cola should move away from their land because the groundwater level is down. I also want to tell you that when these big companies come to a village. But the administration did not give a report even though three months have passed. Nandalal: Let the car come. We have told them that if they don’t take any action within a month then we will take direct action against the company. So. And the company should pay damages for the harm that has come to our crops. And in 1995 this plant was owned by the thumbs up drink (Parle) and in 1999 the coca cola company bought it from them. But on the 9th march the governor of the state had come to Benaras so all the officials had gone to receive him and there was no one there in the office. they promise that they will give a lot of jobs to the villagers. And on that basis they gave the government stamp duty worth rupees 50 Lakh (1 Lakh= 100. But this company stole 3 crore rupees and yet neither the media nor the administration said anything about this. then you have to pay registration fees which is called stamp duty. So the additional city magistrate (fourth) took our petition and assured us that he will talk to the district magistrate and speed up the enquiry process so that the committee will give its report soon. And our government has become so incompetent. When the authorities set up an enquiry committee they told us that the committee will submit the report within a month.M called us he asked us to furnish evidence in support of our claims. But until now we have not received any word from them. He told us that he would inform us pretty soon about what is going on. That’s the state of affairs here. Neha: But today we’ll also like to go into the village because that’s why we have come here. So when the workers working in the plant agitated against this system and kept the plant non functioning for a whole week and they occupied the plant for an entire week. But it did not give permanent employment to any of the local people. (If buy land it must be registered in a court maybe the registration act.if I owe the government 10. And that they will provide employment to the maximum amount of people possible in the village. when this company came here it promised to hire the maximum possible number of people from the village.) A farmer of the village submitted a writ petition against this malpractice.and I have no hesitation in saying that. That’s what the villages did. Nandalal: I have already given one set of these records to the authorities and one set is also lying with me. But just two months later they told the industry department that their property was worth 31 core rupees. I’ll get them photocopies and give them to you. The earlier we begin the better. Even today the coca cola plant is built on illegally occupied land. The company has occupied the Chak Road [road which came out as result of land rationalization process? Process is called Chak Bundi.000). When the D.M who was holding the enquiry. Earlier it was owned by someone else. Only after we began our agitation against it did the company deposit this amount. Later on the court allowed them to pay this amount in installments and the first installment was supposed to be one crore forty seven Lakh rupees.ASK] and one of the court gentlemen consents to the fact that this plant did not originally belong to the coca cola company. (60 ½ million rupees). So the court said that the company should pay the government three crore sixty Lakh rupees. We have given them evidence showing how the illegal occupation has been done. And the courts judgment came out on 3rd march that the company has underpaid stamp duty by this amount and it should also pay an equal amount as penalty. so what happened after that was that when 103 . Similarly.000 rupees than they will straight away arrest me and put me in a lock up for 13 days. After this the Coca cola Company appealed in the high court and then the Supreme Court but it lost everywhere. At the time of buying the coca cola company declared that they were buying this property for 6 and a half crore rupees. on this basis the company had paid the government 1 ½ crore rupees less as stamp duty. That’s why we decided to surround the A.

Dr. You should also come tomorrow because all the women associated with this agitation will come here. Sandeep Pandey. I am also calling Shailendre Singh. 104 . He’s bringing the car then I’ll take you. It’s a bit far. through a restraining order. Dr. It would be a problem without that. Neha: you will have to help us in this.let him come with the car and I’ll take you there. And we are appealing against this order. They believe that now it is their government so they cannot oppose any such things. And thirteen people Neha: the workers who came from outside. And they brought the workers from the outside through this backdoor entry and started their work. For the last few years my teaching work has become less. Aflatoon Desai. The court has passed a judgment on Nandalal Master. Nandalal. Swati. The Coca Cola Company has obtained a restraining order on the five of us. That’s why they hesitate in coming into this matter. 2-3 kilometers. Because they are more interested in their banner. I used to teach children laborers. Neha: Oh you mean the D. That’s why we don’t expect any support from the political parties nor do we hope that they will ever stand by us in a long fight. They have also got a restraining order against five of us from among the people who were staging the sit in Neha: what is the restriction that they have given you? Nandalal: The restriction is that we are not allowed to stage any sit in or protest within a 300 meter radius of the plant. Neha: What happened to that police case where the police had beaten you people with sticks? Nandalal: The lawsuit is going on about that too. So we don’t expect political parties to stand by us in a big way. They divided them into two groups and created animosity between the groups. Then there’s the matter of the map of the land belonging to the Gram Sabha which we brought out all the records. They were from everywhere. So you have to go and meet the farmers? Neha: yes we want to go to two or three villages.S. Nandalal: yes somebody or other will have to do that. When the car comes I will take you there. where were they from? Nandalal: They were mostly local but some Bihari’s. But the moment they become the ruling party they stop to listen to you no matter which issue you bring up whether it be corruption or the issue of coca cola or whatever.the company realized that they can’t get away with it they had people break into the plant from the backside. After that also the court has passed a judgment upon us.P (Depute supreme attendant of police) We’ll see about tomorrow. One more risk is that when political parties come to your help then as long as they are in the opposition in the parliament they are with you. and Santosh Kumar. And these people are even today trying to prove their side of the argument in the law courts. And they pitted the workers who were organizing the sit-in in front of the plant against each other. And the 13 people who were leading the agitation against them are even today prohibited from coming anywhere within a 30 meter radius of the plant.

FIRST SECTION OF VILLAGE: Shira: What is your name? Vidya: My name is Vidya. (To other woman: one person of your community [Biradari] [caste] died and one of mine. They’re also getting sick from it. And when we decided to have a sit in and protest so what they did was they had a well dug and they dumped their water into that well. Neha: Has anyone had cancer from that water? Vidya: Yes. they want. There are plenty of them you can see them if you want. Neha: What if someone from your family were to get a job there? Vidya: We won’t work at salaried jobs.NandaLal: I’ll show you the photographs related to this movement. Neha: What do they want? Vidya: Those who are working here don’t want to chase the company away. We hear about it a lot. Neha: They want? Vidya: Yes. People of my household will not work at salaried jobs.” Of course somebody who works there will get money. So why would he want to chase them away? They are getting money so why would they want to do that? Those who are working there want the company to stay. They think to themselves “we are getting money from them. many people are getting cancer. Vidya: Yes. These are the things that are causing problems for us. Shira: What problems are you facing from the Coca Cola plant? The problem that we have is they are extracting ground water from deep down and all this water will be spent so what will we drink? And the farming that we had we noticed that when their water used to flow into our farms our crops used to burn away. The Coca Cola plant. Neha: We’ve heard that many people from your village are working for that plant Vidya: Yes. People are also getting cancer due to that water. That’s why we go there to do sit-ins. A daughter in law died recently of cancer. Neha: so you want to drive them away? 105 . I’ve heard stories of many people dying. there are many. So that’s why we want them to remove the plant from here.) Other woman: oh many people have had it.

Then what will we drink and eat? Neha: Are the wells dry now? Vidya: No there’s still some water now. Neha: Did you know from before that the Coca Cola plant will be harmful for people and will make them sick? Or was it that you came to know about this only when the Chetana Samiti people told you? Vidya: We came to know only after they told us. So the first problem that will come out is that there will be no water. Vidya: yes. That’s why we came to believe that it is the plant that has caused the damage.Vidya: yes we want to drive them away. If you can’t get a harvest from our farms then why put up with it? How can we eat if our farms don’t yield any crop? We don’t have farms in that area but how can we even buy the food grains if there’s no harvest in those farms? Shira: What difference has come in the village from the time when the coca cola plant was not here till today? Earlier there was no plant here. Since those people are extracting that water it is but natural that the wells will dry up. We only want them to leave. Now it is the Coca cola Company. Neha: Has any well gone dry yet? Vidya? Yet? 106 . Vidya: We don’t have any farms there. But if this goes on then these wells like the one that you see in front of you. The farms there belong to other people.” Even if the farms yield a harvest we’ll still buy food from outside. Our farms are not in that area. Neha: So that’s why you are committed to this agitation? Vidya: Yes that is why. Neha: So since that time what different can you perceive till now? Vidya: The main difference is that now we have a real problem in getting water. We don’t want them to give us jobs. Because the water coming out from the plant has flown into these farms and the paddy crop has become burned. In my family the rule is only he who slogs will eat. We think to ourselves “if we have to buy food grains in order to eat then what’s the point. The level of water in the wells is going down. Earlier it was the plant owned by the biscuit company. Earlier we didn’t know and we came to know only after they informed us. Earlier there was a biscuit company here. We don’t want them to give salaried jobs to our men folk or children. But when we saw their farms on the way to the coca cola plant we found them truly damaged. Neha: So it means that the farms must have been getting damaged even earlier but at that time you didn’t know that it was due to the plant. or earlier there was another plant here. It’s the villagers who should get to know. When I went there I saw that the paddy crop in the farms near the coca cola plant had become burned.

Earlier there was no such idea. would you have stepped forward to fight them? 107 . Neha: If these organizations had not come. Neha: So it dries up in summer time now. To make them go away. People are discussing with each other in place after place. Neha: Didn’t the well dry up in summers earlier? When there was no plant here then did the water dry up or not? Vidya: No. Shira: what’s your name? Malti: I’ll tell you whatever I can. That’s the whole matter. The fields are not getting any harvest. Other woman: Even when the month of Jath (Hindu month.May and June) comes the wells dry up. Vidya: We want them to leave this place. So was there anything happening even before the organizations came into the picture? Or is it that all this agitation has started only after the organizations came here? Malti: It has started only after the organizations came. Vidya: it will dry up completely. Other woman: That’s why we go there. Now there is a lot of organization and unity. Then the organizations came and began to raise these questions. Instead of water. There was nothing before that. right? Other woman: yes. that water is burning down the crops. That’s why we all go there. pebbles will begin to come out. Why else would we go there? Neha: So you went there after the people of the organization told you about this? Women: yes Woman: we used to go with the Chetana Samiti people after they asked us to come with them. Now in place after place after place people are thinking about it.Neha: has the water level gone down in well so far? Vidya: If you look into the well that is right here in front you will find that earlier the water level was much higher than it is today. These are the kind of problems we have. now it does. Neha: This problem was in your village from before because the Coca cola plant had come here quite a long time back. Neha: And what about the farms? Vidya: I told you about the farms. That’s why we go there to do sit-ins. There was no idea of doing anything before that. My name is Malti. Other woman: if this goes on then the water of the wells will dry up completely.

but if there is a wedding or ceremony at home. there was this guy here who died of cancer who had a young daughter. a hunger strike.” Other woman: All of it was confirmed there. So when both of the bottles were brought in to be checked. Malti: People here are not getting a proper hearing from the authorities. There will be such a severe drought here due to the coca cola company that there is no limit to how severe the drought will be. they found all this in them. For five days straight people went without food. And there were a whole lot of police men there and they showed us the bottle right after it had been checked. For five days straight we sat there hungry Neha: There was a hunger strike? Malti: Yes. That’s why we want it to leave our country. No how can we chase them away? It’s not within our power to do so. Now just think how can we go to a place three kilometers away to fetch drinking water for ourselves? (Because the water level has moved that far. You can see the photo’s here. Actually the people of the village that they have given employment to are the ones who are encouraging the company and its intransigence. To other woman: just see. Many people are getting cancer. even though they are exchanging so many sit-ins. then how can we go to a place three kilometers away to get water for the drinking needs? Everybody will die without water here. And also germs. We had a hunger strike but foreign companies are not affected by these things.Malti: No. And they are refusing even to think of leaving.) We can manage everyday drinking water needs with the present set up. But none of it is having even the slightest affect. And over here the poor fellows go hungry when they form an organization to fight the company. there was a man there who had been given two bottles two drink. He had not drunk them but had saved them instead. Other woman: yes Neha: So 60-70 people have got jobs there? Malti: yes 108 . Only their leaving will be good for us. But nothing is having any affect on the company. We have formed a lot of organizations against them but lets see how long the company stays here. Then that would be good for us. See that’s why we went to prison and we went through so many hardships. So if someone will drink that water it will definitely harm his body won’t it? Other woman: when we went to Jaunpur. Foreign companies are such that these things are not having any affect on them. When it was checked they found lead in it. But its all in there. We’ll have to wait and see how long it takes for all this to have any affect on the company. It also contains germs these germs were discovered weren’t they. And they run from pillar to post day and night to get justice. Neha: how many villagers have they given jobs too? Malti: Oh there must be at least 60 or 70 people. Malti: The Coca Cola plant will extract water from a distance of three kilometer to do its work. when it went over there? The germs were discovered when we went there to stage a sit in and it was also found that it also contained lead. people of that side of the village. The policeman told us “look they always say that its all a lie.

a few of them are part of the agitation. Malti: They would never go in our agitation. do they go for the sit-ins or not? Woman: no they don’t go for the sit-ins. We are not greedy for their stuff. They distributed these things because they thought that if they would please us by doing this then we would not chase them away from here. Other woman: they also bring this stuff for everyone in the village. Vidya: They don’t go. Why should we? Other woman: See at that time they distributed medicines and blankets and utensils. The company gives them thali’s and blankets and kitchen utensils from time to time. Malti: But a few of them have begun to come. They installed hand pumps so that the people will not try to ride them away from here. when we go there [for sit-ins] they laugh at us. Vidya: Yes. Neha: Those people who have had hand pumps installed in their places. 109 . But only they who stand to benefit should get these hand pumps installed in their places. Why should we seeing the fact that we don’t stand to benefit anyway? Neha: So you people will not have them installed right? Vidya and women: No.Neha: So they are not part of this agitation? Malti: no. they stay in their part of the village. Vidya: They also installed many hand pumps. we don’t want their things. Malti: But we don’t go there to take the stuff. Neha: What is the use of having hand pumps if the water will not come out anyway? Vidya: Yes. over here we speak a rural language so we don’t use the word hand pump. in fact. Only he who stands to benefit should go there. Vidya to Malti: Sister understands very little of our language [Bhojpuri] because she is from Benaras. what of the use of having hand pumps if that is the case? Neha: So chapacal means hand pumps? Vidya: yes. Vidya: that’s why we want the company to leave.

Vidya: That’s why you see wherever there is a protest about to happen. we go there. Go on sing. sing that song for them. Of course it is understandable that when the police were chasing you with lathi’s what else could you do? (Laughing. Malti: close it down. (Laughing. Not coca cola. we did. Woman: if you ask the little girl she will sing with all her enthusiasm.” Neha: Did you people also go to Bombay? Women: yes. if you mention the word coca cola in front of them. Neha: did you also go there? Woman 3: yes. All we want is that they should leave our country.Malti: We don’t want anything from them. “In our country milk and yogurt will be sold and consumed. We want nothing more. Women 3: Yes. my granddaughter was pulling me. they will begin to sing the song that they have created for it. so we decide that we can also go.) They began to run out of fear.” When this kid says this in front of people. pulling there grandmothers and mothers with them. Boy says: close down coca cola close down coca cola. Shira: what is your name? Another woman: My name is Sukhdei 110 . Pepsi cola will not do. they laugh and are amazed at how wise she is even at such a young age. I and she and she. When they pulled me I fell down and Other woman: two of the kids were this high and they were also pulling us away to safety. Vidya: the song that they use is “in the country of milk and yogurt. We only want to drive them away from our country. If NandaLal can go. out of fear that they will get killed. Malti: If you ask even the small kids. She is the youngest of the kids but when she sings he sings with all his enthusiasm.) The kids began to run. NEXT VILLAGE: Shira: Can you talk some about Coca Cola? Woman: We began to get beaten Woman 2: Even these little kids had gone there and when the police started beating us the kids began to wail. Neha: to child: will you sing the song for me? Malti: Come on.

Neha: ok tell us what you were saying about the water Sukhdei: We have a huge problem of water here.soaking agent inside the well which sucked up all the surrounding groundwater. so we put that water into our farms to save the crops from burning in the heat. Neha: speak one by one because the voices may not be clear Women: yes it might not come out. The company dug a well and installed a sokhta. Sukhdei: we would put that water into our fields. You couldn’t stop scratching yourself. when Master [Nandalal] created a big scene then they Neha: so when the water was in your fields. the one that they are emitting from the factory. but we had no idea that it was harmful water. you experienced an intense itching sensation. When you suck water from a different area then the only thing left in that area is the crash and the filth. but when it used to come out then Neha: you mean the factory water? Sukhdei: yes. Neha: Which water. And we had no idea that this was garbage water. the one that they are extracting from the ground? Sukhdei: Even suppose if bad water is not coming out at this time. This water has harmed all the orchards and boy there are so many mosquitoes that you can’t even imagine. And since the time when the water from coca cola has spread aroundNeha: tell us what happened? Sukhdei: when this water spread into the orchards and fields are crops were damaged. 111 . There are so many mosquitoes that you got measles on your hands and feet. So when you people agitated against this. didn’t you people go there and complain? Sukhdei: We complained a lot. Other woman: the water looked clean. Sukhdei: and that water was so full of dirt and so bad smelling that we had to keep our noses covered all the time. then did this water stop? Sukhdei: Yes. and the fields were dry and parched. Neha: all of you will get to talk to her. And also boils on your skin. Other woman: but when this water came into contact with your skin.

How will we live if there will be no water? It is sucking up all the water. Now they have made the water in the fields flow to a different place. Sukhdei: Our agriculture is getting scorched. Other woman: For example Sukhdei: if the factory does not close down. And just see that when we went there to stage the sit in they beat up poor Master. if it gets all the profit then what will we do? Another woman: the fields will get scorched for want of water. I mean that when the water had flooded this area then it was Master who went there to complain? You guys didn’t go? Sukhdei: No it was master who spoke on our behalf. 112 . All of us women were in front of the march. then we will die for want of even a single drop off water. The water belongs to our country. Neha: Why do you people want to get it closed down? Sukhdei: It will be a good thing if it closes down. we don’t have any more problems. Neha: Then why is the agitation still going on? Sukhdei: what? Neha: the agitation is still going on. Neha: What other problems do you have? The problem of the water has been removed. Neha: So you don’t have any problems anymore? Sukhdei: No. The property that we had which was getting damaged from their water is safe from it now.” Because the slope of the land is such that the water that they emit goes into our fields. Five or six women were leading the march and the men were behind them. if they don’t give us water then what will happen to our agriculture system? We will die.Neha: No. Neha: So now you don’t have any more problems with the bottling plant? Sukhdei: No. Sukhdei: Why not? The agitation will not stop until they close down the plant. the sugar [that they use to make their drink belongs to our country]. He began swearing at them saying “where the hell is all this water coming from. there are no more problems. We didn’t. We have no problem with water anymore. Only after Master undertook that agitation did the company arrange for an alternative exit for the water. Another woman: the only problem is that the water that we are getting has diminished in quantity. our tube wells are going dry. the water that was coming into your fields? What other problems do you have? Sukhdei: We aren’t having any other real problem now. At every place.

now come forward and tell us your story. Old woman: I didn’t go. But I told them that if they would call me then I would come over. Neha: no you also come forward. we were there right from the morning. How will we and the children survive? How will we survive if we don’t get water? Neha: Grandma.Neha: So has it started affecting the water taps and wells? Sukhdei and another woman: where the hell are we getting water now? Old woman: they are sucking away all the water near our wells. side by side. It is like a big penance. come forward. Neha: You guys also come along while we are talking to them. Neha: You all went? Women: yes we all went. we were with the men. We even went to Bombay [for the world social forum] together. I know you will fill all of this into your tape. No she (old woman) didn’t go. Even when the police were beating everyone we were there. All the water we get burned away…. Woman: The whole matter is that if water will not come into the taps then what will we do? Will we raise our families and look after their healthcare or will we spend our time trying to get water? If farming becomes totally barren. and farms become as dry as papad. Sukhdei: For five days people were staging a hunger strike there and we were there on all the five days. Even when we had to go to Benaras. Old woman: yes we were there side by side like comrades in arms. Woman: what can I say? You guys say what you have to say and I’ll talk later. And even then there was a three day day night sit ins were going on we were part of that too. And even when the sit ins went on only for the day time. My entire family went. Sukhdei: Yea of course. Even now a lot of water has gone dry. Woman in background: come forward and tell your stories Neha: you. Neha: Should we ask them too? We will hear everyone’s story. then how will we survive? If it goes away from here then it will be a big boost for our welfare. Everybody is trying there best to make them go away. Sukhdei: Three households went. You were telling us from behind there. 113 . not only yours. do you also go to the agitations? Did you also go when there was a Lathi charge? Sukhdei: Yes. all of us went. now lets see how long it takes.

114 . Provided. Woman: Just imagine they are throwing glass shards of broken bottles into our fields and these shards hurt our feet when we go there to transplant paddy. they stop making it. it sucks up all the groundwater using big machines. Just see there is a biscuit factory and a steel utensil factory near the limca [coca cola] factory. which had been lying with someone for some time. We are fed up of paying for medicines for the different ailments. But we don’t have any problems with them. Old woman: yea I also go. And that water used to flow into the Ganga. then suppose there’s only one source of earning. that would be good. She (previous woman) is my sister in law. then will we devote our time to supporting the family and looking after their healthcare or earning? How will our children survive? How will they live? If this company were to produce anything else. And it also causes suffering and disease. Neha: they were the people who began the agitation here. Other woman: When we went to Janpaur we found that there were germs and trash inside a coca cola bottle. Neha: Do you go into the agitations? Women: Yes. the water began to flood our farms. and the village headman. (husbands elder brothers wife. And even the authorities and the policemen.) it is all our own thing. why don’t we oppose their presence? If this company would start producing anything except Limca [soft drinks]. Earlier the waste water of the village used to flow into the pond of Kalipur. then would you have staged your own agitation? Woman: yes. they all saw it in bottles that were packed and sealed. are you associated with that or not? Woman: Yes. Neha: suppose. but since the time they began to build the bridge. Because when it produces this drink. That’s the matter. Woman: yes. then that will be fine. yes. If nothing will grow in the fields. Another woman: I go there every time. Neha: No. We would. Other woman: just see why don’t we ever oppose their presence? Woman: yea. Neha: suppose these organizations had not come forward.Neha: are you emotionally attached to the organizations that are associated to this cause? Woman: yes. I mean the thing that Nandelal Master is doing. Woman: all this is our own thing. and our farming began to get ruined.

And in this field there was so much slush from the factory that when buffalos used to go there they used to die. Woman: yea. Woman: In fact. Our only problem is that we want that they should close down this factory and produce something else. Now just think. As long as they produce 115 . these things are being produced right next to this Limca [coca cola] factory. we have no problem with that. Woman: A sort of gas used to come out from that place. Woman: The gas was such bad smelling that when you sat down to eat you felt like throwing up. etc. they stop throwing glass shards and they stop throwing dirty water into your fields. then? Woman: Yes. would we spend our money into buying medicines for our children or for our cattle or for feeding the children? In this era of inflation how much can one person possibly earn? People are tired of working hard to earn some extra money and how will we get our sons and daughters married off? And if it doesn’t happen [the wedding] then they [the children] will run away. Then the children and the cattle will die. a biscuit factory. Neha: no. suppose they stop doing all this. won’t they? Because everyone will starve for water. Because this thing [coca cola production] makes us do a lot of penance.Neha: Suppose they stop doing all this. or anything else. If they don’t move away from here then that’s fine. Woman in background: a biscuit factory. If they stop producing Limca [soda] and open some other factory. Another woman: no one will complain about that. it was like some kind of gas. where chick pea had been sowed. Another woman: at the time when the orchard had become scorched it used to give off such a bad smell as if some dead animal was lying there. While going to the market and while coming back from there we used to walk with our mouths covered. These things are being produced. Another woman: oh there is this farm thatWoman: yea. There is a biscuit factory and a steel glass factory. There is a farm belonging to a Harijan. Neha: what will you people do then? Would you want them to stay or leave? Would you tell them to stay or leave? Woman: we are doing the best we can. Or a factory to make steel kitchen utensils. then what will you want? Woman: We would want them to produce something else. Because the huge machines and the giant tube wells that they use to suck water will make all our wells go dry and none of our pumping sets will yield water and our farming will go dry. you know when you go through this orchard you actually go wading through knee deep water in order to go to the market. Another woman: yea.

Neha: yea it will become like that. Other woman: yea. Another woman: farms have become scorched. Another woman: right now it isn’t like that. Neha: has it also made a difference to your health? All women: yea. woman: only after the villages surrounded the factory. Woman: Look. from this plant here right up to that one there. this whole place will become well lit. We get three kinds of water. did they stop throwing that water into our fields. this entire plot of land became ruined. Woman: When the lights will come on at night. Neha: [tries the water. then what can we do? Women: eat Neha: if we eat it will be to late/ Woman: now just see there is something mixed into the water or not? Neha: what is mixed into it? Woman: there is a slight hint of that pollution in it. Neha: yes yes. if you tell her all this she will fill that inside her tape. That’s the whole thing. It will seem as if someone is focusing a searchlight into this area. Neha: doubtful sound. [pointing to orchard] look here is one of the orchard which has become scorched. there are three hand pumps. Another woman: yea you can see that the water we get is quite dirty. When our kids cry and suffer for things or because of disease.] Woman: no no we ARE getting dirty water. angrily. Woman: It will become like that.something else.] I don’t notice anything particular about the water. Over here. Why would we want to interfere with the livelihoods of our sons. And each of them give off different kinds of water. Neha: Why? Woman: we don’t know why. we only want the company to produce something else. 116 .

because they have blocked the entrance. Women: yes Neha: if that land was privately owned then theres no way then a chak road could be there. Neha: Whose land is it? Woman: It’s mine. Neha: isn’t there a way to go to the main road from here? Women: no there is no way of doing that.Woman: [points to tree] look at that tree. Neha: Why is nothing growing there? Another woman: because of the water. Other woman: yes. its right there. The brokers took bribes and sold off all this land. And after that. his land has also been bought. And look here. All that has been ruined. Woman: there is one more man. Neha: Nothing is growing there? Woman: No. and yet we have no way of coming to and going back from my farm. When weddings take place. Neha: Before there was this factory here. It is the plant of Langra Aam [kind of mango]. nothing is growing ever since. Just like (unclear). Woman: they were emitting there water into my land and one time we threatened to pelt them with rocks. And they also throw their useless bottles into my field and one day I picked up all these bottles and threw them back into their campus. And then there was this man from Ganjari who sold his land here and went back to Ganjari. Three trees have become scorched. there is no way the wedding party can reach here. Neha: But Chak road is always made on government land. One chak road is of ten gari’s and the other chak road is the size of 20. nothing grows. But since the water of that place has come into the field. plump in the middle. was there a chak road here? Woman: yes. there are the farms. Nothing grows there. there are two chak roads here. Then they turned the water off. Neha: Whose land is it in which the plant has been set up? Other woman: the owner of the land sold it and moved it to Ganjari. it is scorched. where if you sow anything. All the women folk of the village have to pass by this area and they have no way to go. Ramnat. We have no way of going either into the village or onto the main road or to Rajatalab. nothing. 117 . Come and look at it from close by.

Neha: so the factory water came even up to here? Woman: yes. Its only after the water has been stopped that the tree looks a bit green. Neha: so the mango’s are not coming out? Woman: no. right? Woman: all this land belongs to me. they did come out but they got scorched. Its not just one man. Neha: how far do you think the plant is from here? They won’t know that. All this land which is where you have the arihar (dal) crops and wheat and mango’s and mahua. otherwise it had become completely scorched. Neha: did you people also agitate to get away to the main road? Women: yes. Wherever Nandelal goes. Other woman: what will we do with jobs if our farming becomes barren? ) 118 . The plants are not even yielding a single fruit. [that’s all we want] we don’t want their jobs. Whether it is lucknow or Bombay. we don’t want their jobs. we go with him. Woman: It should close down. Because they had opened the valve which is nearby.Neha: who is involved in this? Woman: everyone is involved. Neha: so nothing is growing there even now. Neha: what if they give you jobs? Woman: we are getting ruined. Neha: did you get a proper hearing? Woman: no we have no received a proper hearing yet. all we want that the factory should be closed down. Woman: some day come with me and I’ll show you from close quarters. Other woman: we don’t want jobs. They stopped the water after we protested. Neha: how many acres of your farming has become ruined? Woman to other woman: how much land to you think it is? Woman: it must be around ( Woman: no I think its more. it did. We are not receiving anything from them.

That’s because the base of the well has collapsed. I had installed a water pump into that well but since the groundwater was not there the pump wouldn’t do anything. it just remains there and does not come out. Other woman (who said 3): The guys are very cunning. Other woman: god knows how many tons of water they are drawing. but the boring machine which I had installed sunk into the soil because the base of the well collapsed. I took out the pump and stashed it away because whatever we put into the well. Another woman: how will we feed our families if they only hire us for four months in a year? Other woman: 3 months. the water is still up. whether it is a pot or a bucket. So how will the machine function? That’s why I took the machine out and put it away.Other woman: its so hot these days and they are sucking away all the water. (next sentence unclear. They have dug seven wells and they have installed drilling machines Another woman: One lakh sixty thousand liters of water is sucked by them every day. Woman: in one hour Neha: how much in one hour? Woman: one lakh sixty thousand liters hourly. Woman: she doesn’t understand out language. Woman: Tell them that we don’t want jobs. 119 .) Women: don’t swear (laughing. Other woman: she doesn’t understand our language.) Woman: She’s talking about you. we only want that the factory should close down. she doesn’t understand this abuse but she does. Neha: You mean they kick you out after three months? Women: Yes. The machines are going on day and night. Neha: You mean the water level has gone down? Woman: No. Another woman: groundwater extraction is going on day and night. 24 hours a day. Woman: Unclear Woman: it is because of this that the well next to my house has stopped functioning. They’ll give you a job for three months and then kick you out.

we will go there. Neha: In Kerala also. yes. Neha: You mean people of the village are also in collusion with the company? Women: Yes. Woman: That is what is causing the problem. weMalti: But the whole village is not united on this issue you see. Woman: No. Other woman: when the report will go there in writing. yes. Other woman: yea she moves around so I’m sure she learns a lot. Neha: It will close down only if you keep up your agitation. Woman: asked neha: this plant will be closed down won’t it? Neha: Aunty we have not come here to get the plant closed down. And after writing this we will submit these reports. But at least we will write this and send it there. Woman: Yes. but if you people also agitate in the same way. 120 . We have to go there. Woman: Wherever they go. no? Neha: Actually when things like this go on then many people… You understand research don’t you? Some people only do research on these things to find out what harm is coming out of these things. Women: yes. Malti: The pradhan (head man/chief) of the village in collusion with the company. that is enough.Shira: I understand a little bit. If the whole village unites. Neha: Over there also there is a similar factory and the local villagers created a big rucus and drove the company away from the village. so we won’t be able to do anything. Another woman: what? Neha: Kerala is a place. only then will this plant close down. Neha: yea she understands a little bit. thenWoman: They will be driven away within a minute. Sukhdei: The fact is that the powers that be of the village are taking bribes from the company to keep silent. The factory has not yet closed down. theres a plant like this one.

And we would have cursed them. (all laughing. We have left everything to Nandlal. Woman: The Pradhan sold the gram sabha land and the land of Chak Rd. what would you have done then? Sukhdei: What could we have done in that case? How far could we have possibly reached without him? The only thing we could have done was indulge in assault and battery. then why would we be so helpless? Sukhdei: Men of my household had gone to Bombay (the world social forum).Sukhdei: If our pradhan had stood up for us. Man: (unclear) Sukhdei: That’s what I’m saying. Woman in background: The pradhan is actually sitting tight having taken a bundle of money from the company. to the limca factory (did this happen after the coca cola or parle) and became uninvolved in this matter. Don’t men go into this agitation? Women: They don’t go. then there was no way that we would not have got a chak road to enter and leave our village. This is all that we could have done. that if the Pradhan had stood up for us. 121 . Neha: Why? Women: If only the men of our village had stood up for this cause. Woman: We are alone in this fight.) Neha: Right from the time that we have come here. ageh aur laraii hau) Sukhdei and other women: Further on there is more fight. its only been women who are talking.this is only the beginning) Further. Neha: Now what are you all planning to do now? Sukhdei: We’ll do whatever Nandlal says. Woman: The fight will go on Woman: This is just the angrai (stretching of the body. why would we have not gotten the chak road? Will our women folk come here to the village walking all the way from the main road? How will wedding parties come to our village? This is the reason why we arrange weddings at a time when the fields are open and vacant. Neha: So what all are you planning to do now? What if Nandlal had not met you. there is more laraii (abhi toh angrai hou. Then people are forced to walk through farms to reach here. my sons had gone to Bombay. We women would have taken up rocks and pelted the factory guards with them whenever we saw them.

Woman: we are Pragapati’s (the potter caste) and our men folk are not here. Woman: But I have not received it. Other men of the village work digging pits with pick axes. but my son had gone to Bombay. We have only this much wheat in our farm. Malti to other woman: Lets go to Nandlals house tomorrow. At the end of the day you need at least one square meal. and some men work at weaving. you see. Right now they are not here and they’ll come back at 9:00 pm or 10:00 pm. or wherever required. In the recent agitation. only woman are talking. if they don’t work. Neha: Right from the time that we have been wandering in the village. The men say nothing at all. Woman: No. Sukhdei: We have not received any pamphlet from him yet. because he works at carrying debris and construction material on his head to and from construction sites. violence is not likely to take place. Woman: The men don’t go because if they go there a fight could break out. my son would have gone to take part but he did not know about it. Woman: We have to keep our stomachs running. Woman: But we have not received any message from him.m.) Women: In Calcutta. Neha: Where does your husband go to work? Woman: In the city of Benaras. Neha: Do they also go with you to agitate? Women: Yes. they are abroad (out of town. when it comes to going to fight. so where will they find the time to take part in this? They will come back at 8:00 p. 122 . He came to know only later. When women go. a pamphlet has not come. how will we eat? Sukhdei: Just look at this. Sukhdei: Her men folk are in Calcutta. Woman: The men know nothing so what can they talk about? Women: laugh Woman: The men go to their daily labor work or to their regular jobs. Malti: Yea. they come with us. Woman: They are labor class men.

there was a big rally for that. whether we live or die. Neha: Did you meet her? Women: Yes. (laughing). Malti: Her speech had taken place Woman: she had also staged a sit in. Woman: We’ll do it. (Unclear) Malti: We went there (Bombay) to get Coca Cola Closed down.” Neha: Did you like meeting Medha Pardkar. Neha: Did she say that it will close down? Malti: She had also come here. 123 . yes absolutely. if it will ever happen then… Malti: We were assured that it will close down. Neha: When you went there what happened there? What all did you do in Bombay? Woman: Now look sister. Woman: She had given a speech in the area called Goragoun (area in Bombay where world social forum was). Woman: Yes. if it does not close down then we will indulge in vandalism. Neha: Are you people ready to indulge in vandalism? Women: Yes. “I’ll see how coca cola doesn’t close down. If the company will not open its gates for us. then we will land people behind the gates via an airplane. Neha: Who said that? Malti and woman: Medha Pardkar.Woman: I also didn’t receive it. yes. (conversation unclear) Woman: Sometimes his brain goes out. and she said. we’ll do it. And everybody said it will close down. Neha: Will you do it? Women: Yes.

And also the contractor who undertook the building contract for the factory. Woman: That part begins to itch. Sukhdei: We need to beat up the commission agent who helped finalize this deal between coca cola and the company that it bought. Neha: What will we do by going over there [closer to the bottling plant]. Another woman: Our farming has really gone awry. I had sewn three crops but Woman: Just see how nice was the crop of Mahua (plant that makes wine) Woman: (points to mango tree) Look at this mango tree. We saw the scene of eight policemen raining lathis on one woman and dragging her inside. Your body turns red from constant scratching. Woman: The extent which the factory water comes into the fields. Sukhdei to Shira: Come on sister. if we were able to sow anything into this farm we could have at least gained some harvest. Sukhdei: Even after all this. come and see it with us. I benefit not at all from the factory here. You get skin diseases and itching from this water. we can see it right from here? So all this land was water logged earlier? Woman: All of this becomes water logged. all that land becomes barren due to the saline nature of the water. (points to some plants) look at these plants. We begin walking towards the plant and see the bad land Woman: Is this the proper way to do farming? Neha: Yea. Other Woman: It ruins your hands and feet. Woman: Come and they will shoot bullets at you at a staccato fashion. this [the land] is really bad. Otherwise this mango tree and that one and that one had all become dry.Malti: They rained lathis on women. (while walking away from the plant we run into a Man from the Gram Panchayat) 124 . Women: laughing. Sukhdei: If you wade into this water you will end up scratching yourself all over. Woman: It is better if we work at daily wages for a living. it is only after I gave it some water that the tree has become green again and it has started yielding fruit. Woman: Look.

(women talk and some laughter) Man 2: When village women are accusing the PRadhan of being in collusion with the Coca Cola company. The water will dry up and when the water dries up. But that was when the earlier Pradhan was there. the company people obducted the Pradhan at gunpoint and made him sign it. Man 3: What will be the condition of the farmer in the future? Man 2: What will be the condition? He will beg by the roadside. But this time.Man: We are members of the Gram Panchayat. Neha: All the villagers are saying that the Gram Pradhan had [taken bribe]. Now. This policy [of the company of damaging everyone] is not a thing of today. Coca cola is built on our village property. The Pradhan is saying “I’ll do whatever you guys want. Neha: What are you demanding in the lawsuit? Man 1: We are demanding that the land that belongs to us be given back to us. so on that basis we are fighting a law suit against the company. Man 2: What happened was that they terrorized the Pradhan and obducted him and took him to their place. where the water from the factory comes out. Neha: How can you say that if all the villages are saying otherwise? (asking Sukdei. Neha: Do you also go into the agitation along with fighting the lawsuit? Man: Yes. one. And we are members of the Gram Panchayat. Man 2: Not the Pradhan. That’s why we are fighting this law suit. they made him do whatever they wanted. it is the land belonging to the Gram Panchayat. Once we had obtained a restraining order against the company. and the third spot is (unclear) Neha: Is it your personal property or is itMan: No. 125 . what else. And after taking him there. and then that restraining order was vacated by the company. and now the lawsuit is going on. Man 3: The Pradhans father had taken a bribe. the Pradhan is no longer in the forefront. Yes we go. They had taken the earlier Pradhan at gunpoint there and intimidated him. what will the farmers here do? Woman: We will die without food. and secondly it is at the place where there is a tube well. Some of our land is inside the coca cola boundary and it is in three places. we are fighting this fight.” The company has damaged everyone.who had taken the bribe Sukhdei: Pradhanji had taken the bribe.

They won’t even get water to drink. We just want the company to return our property to us and to bring the water that it need from outside and not to take water from here. We just want to tell the company “you have bought your land. but don’t take water from our village. then they are arrested under this law. can you tell us in more detail? Shyamlal Yadav: (tape unclear. Earlier. After that. We began opposing this. When we were released and we came back to workNeha: So they had also got you arrested and put inside the prison? Shyamlal Yadav: Yes. Neha: What kind of attack. they began blaming us for one thing or the other and then they launched a fake law suit against us. etc. and so on. Neha: So if they bring water from outside then you don’t have a problem with that? Man 2: IF they bring water from outside. etc. others wanted something else. After every two or four months. One is under section 107/16 (covers physical fights or when someone violates peace. They had us arrested on charges of fighting with the security guards. So when we began to protest. Two of the lawsuits are still going on. But then after two years they began fighting us. We get a bail and then for the next eight or nine months the case goes on. They used to make a worker work for two or four days and then fire him without giving him any money. We were with the company right from the time of the laying of its foundation stone. cleaning up the place etc. And we used to do all that. We began demanding bonus. with some coca cola workers-) Shira: Whats your name? Shyamlal Yadav: My name is Shyamlal Yadav. they lodge a complaint against us under this section and then we have to go for bail whether we like it or not.) they also used to make us do things that weren’t worth doing. I worked there by carrying bricks. And they had got four of the people arrested and they have 126 . so stay within its boundary. people accepted the company because some people wanted commission from the company. Even at the present time they have registered a case under 107/16 against eleven people. we will not allow our water to be sold. they used to “attack” you even if you had not committed any fault. we have no objection to that. and we were arrested and kept inside the prison at Chauka Ghat for a week. etc. (-next place. When we were released we came back and we tried our best to work here but they did not re-hire us. they started giving us a bonus. Neha: And you used to work in the plant earlier? Shyamlal Yadav: When the plant was being built. After that. and no one thought about the future. For example. their plant was set-up and they hired us and after that they began exploiting us.” Man 1: (unclear) Man 2: No.) And they always harass us using this section.

These are the problems to be faced. Neha: What kind of exploitation do they practice against you? For example. Suppose we make a demand to the company. But if they are not under any pressure. if you look at the government rate of workers rages (minimum wage) it is at least 72 to 75 rupees per day. That’s how they do it. For example if I work in this working season. they would except your demand.again got an arrest warrant issued for these four people. They mostly want to hire Bihari’s.” Neha: What do you want now? Shyamlal Yadav: Now we want that the company shouldn’t be here. Neha: Why don’t they? Shyamlal Yadav: Because the working season goes on only for four or five months in a year so how will Bihari’s eat for the remaining part of the year? They can’t just sit back and relax because they will have to work at something else for the rest of the time. and they don’t have money to hire workers on a long-term basis. Theres no profit from this company except loss and damage. Every season they make some people slog and then they fire them and hire other people. When we were working there they were paying us 63 rupees per day. anywhere from 150 to 200 people have been fired so far. But Bihari’s don’t succeed here. make me work for some time. And there is no other work available for them. Neha: So what do you people want? Do you want them to re-hire you or do you want the plant to close down? Shyamlal Yadav: What we want is that the way they have been harassing us until nowSometimes we also telephone the company and sometimes Sheetla Singh of the company also phones us. Shyamlal Yadav: Yes. If they’re under pressure they would take any insult from you lying down. The company doesn’t have work for them throughout the year and you can see for yourself that a lot of the companies capital is tied up in the market. Just as the British used to exploit us. There is no difference between the two. so if they’re under pressure. similar is the way in which this company does. On the following eighth there will be a hearing for this case. they will keep quiet. sometimes we also harass them. We think “you harass us. and naturally I also desire to work there so they would hire me. and we demanded to be paid that amount and we fought a long battle. So they 127 . Neha: Many people like you must have been fired. we blocked the path of the car of the general manager of the company in pursuit of our demands. When we found out from the labor court that the government minimum wage was rupees 68 and 38 pesa. Once they become free from pressure they will again start exploiting us. then somebody else will work in my place in the next season. and then fire me and hire somebody else. They operate under the British rule system. For example. Just as they harass us. For example. you told us that they don’t give you bonuses and they don’t hire you for more than three months at a time? Shyamlal Yadav: For example. then they can have anything done to you under the sun.” When we complain to the company the company says to us “reap what you have sown. so we will also harass you. So Slowly we came to know that the government rate was higher. suppose I have never worked for the company yet. If they are under pressure for the time being.

Neha: Do you belong to the Samajwadi Party? Shyamlal Yadav: Yes. Shyamlal Yadav: Yea. We have all the details about what I’m talking about. does it support your movement? Shyamlal Yadav: Yes. And this happened two or three times. We have kept all the details with us in writing. Neha: No I mean the Samajwadi Party. Whoever could answer back to them. but now we have decided that we don’t want to work here. As long as we don’t want that. Neha: If you don’t then someone else will. And similarly they began to fire each one of us by accusing us of one thing or the other. For example. how can a party be associated with a movement? It can only happen if we want the party to be associated. they would come in our support. The only thing that can come from the company is loss. want to work here. Neha: the situation regarding the workers here. Neha: How is your party associated with this movement? Shyamlal Yadav: Look. it does. Even if today we were to wish for this to happen. and I can’t remember everything over the top of my head. Then there was a man who was the most vocal of all and they fired him on charges of sleeping on duty when in fact he was not even on duty on that day.began to give us 68 rupees 38 pesa per day. When they kicked out these people then these people got a bad image but inside the company the exploitation went on as before. There is nothing to be gained except loss and damage from the company staying here. The party people came here and we had sit-ins many times and then we were re-instated. Neha: What does the party say about this? Shyamlal Yadav: How is it supporting you? Shyamlal Yadav: They say that “you guys should…” But we. that’s true. and then we staged a whole lot of sit-ins and protests and we took the support of the Samajwadi Party and we staged dozens of sit-ins and protests. And then the company singled us out as political leaders of the workers and they made up their minds to fire us. They had singled out all the persons who spoke out on behalf of the workers and there were about 11 or 12 of us like that. 128 . Then they began giving us bonuses. Then they began deducting the provident (pension) fund from our wages on a regular basis. the party man of our district and in this area supports us. Man: to Neha: What are you getting recorded. So first they began fighting the workers and we became agitated. We began to work for the company again. Neha: Is Samajwadi Party doing anything to drive the company away from here? Shyamlal Yadav: That of course… who wouldn’t want that. they would get them out. I can give them to you whenever you want. it won’t happen. are. you know.

Man 3: Both are possible at the same time. That’s why we don’t go there. Man: When you go inside the bottling hall where the bottling takes place you can’t go inside beyond that without wearing a cap. We want to be with them provided the sit-in that took place the last time. Who are you standing by? 129 . Those people like the company people are pretty sharp at legal action. etc. That’s why we don’t come there. Neha: You got the job in the plant. But what do you think about the affect that the setting up of the plant has had on the surrounding fields. Man 1: We are bound by the restraining order prohibiting us from coming anywhere within 300 meter radius of the company gate. We are talking about another kind of filth. (Says to Neha:) If you want to do a question answer session. Otherwise we really want to cooperate. Shyamlal Yadav: (talking to protesters) We want to be with the company. But we do want to cooperate with you. Shyamlal Yadav: Since they have had us arrested. Man 2: Is sister here (Shira) from the Coca Cola company? Neha: No. No one talks about that kind of filth. but the villages are suffering the damage. And then the police can arrest us. are bail will be revoked.” If you don’t have a cap then you can’t go inside. when Akram. Was the setting up of the plant a good thing or not in terms of that? Man: Of course the farming is damaged. Everyplace it is written. Shyamlal Yadav: We are bound by this restraining order. then do it properly. No one can go in without the cap whether it be a staff member or anyone. Man 2: Hey sister. where the drink is made. The chemicals that are mixed into the drink. and that is a wrong thing. brother. Man2: Either speak for the company or against the company. “no cap no entry. came here so at that time you guys had staged a sit-in hadn’t you? At that time there were people from the company who were there at the sit-in site with instructions to make sure that anyone but us should be present there at the sit-in. you can only go inside after wearing a cap. Man 1: We do cooperate with you. he will go to work for that company and at the same time he is opposing the company. Neha: But that’s another issue. the chemicals that are put into the water to purify it for making the drink. what brought you here? Neha: We are conducting a survey. Even inside the syrup room. so now if we are seen anywhere within the three hundred meter radius.Man: Just see.

Man 3: My point is that the damage that the company is causing to the village is not a good thing. When the company began functioning. we used to get a bonus. What will we gain by working for the company for just a short period? 130 . If everyone loses then we also lose. You can tell about yourself.Man: Look. It’s good that we have jobs and we are earning livelihoods. But if everyone is being hurt by just one man getting a job and earning a living then it would be better if that man doesn’t have that job at all. Neha: Don’t you fight against all this? Man: Hell. then I’ll quit. That’s the time from which the sit-ins started. Our point is that if because of the presence of the company. if someone is working for the company they would fire him after ten days of work and hire another person and do likewise with him. we were the first people to begin the fight. That’s not the way that I think. man. then that will cause problems to us too right? Seeing all this it would be better if the company doesn’t stay here at all. It’s good that we’ve got jobs there. then we would stand to lose also. Neha: What happens? Man: Earlier. If my quitting will benefit the villagers. my entire village should live a life of darkness. That’s the way its going on. Neha: But that was his thing. now they have stopped giving a bonus. Man: Yea that is true. So the old workers who were replaced began protesting against this. some of the people will be mine. Neha: Suppose the agitation grows in a scale and the villages ask you to quit your job. then the contractor said “no. he began to hire new workers by replacing the old ones. Neha (to other man): What do you think about this? Man 3: I can’t tell you anything about that. If everyone cooperates then I too will cooperate. Then when they changed their labor contractor and a labor contractor from Kanpaur came. Suppose we were for just a short period. Neha: They found out that the company does not even follow the rules when it comes too hiring and employing people.” At that time the displaced workers brought some local politicians from the city here and staged sit ins etc. if everyone has an objection to my working there then I’ll quit. I don’t believe that simply because I got a job. Whether the company makes suitable arrangements or not is none of my business. would you do that? Man: Hell. For example if a new labor contractor comes to work for the company. But the fact is that the damage this drink is causing to people who drink it is not our business. the village suffers from water shortage and other things. he will hire his own men and that is inevitable. I’ll quit. and then get fired. But if they won’t then what can I possibly do? No one can do anything alone. then it went on for three years without any problem. I don’t think that if the company hurts or damages anyone or anything then I have no objection to that. And for example. If the village tells me to quit.

More Coca cola workers: Man: What I have to say is. then is that profitable or harmful for the village? Man 2: How many persons can the company possibly give jobs to? The population of the village is 3. in that line of work. 131 . Neha: Tell us something about the situation inside the factory? What kind of relations do they have with the workers? Do they fire workers after they have worked for 3 months? Man 1: Yes. Shira: All the workers that work with you in the plant were they all weavers before that? Man 1: Yes. After that someone else will do that job. Neha: Suppose the company gives employment to all the people in the village in its plant. Neha: You didn’t find that work profitable? Man 1: No it was profitable of course. The only problem is. Only 120 days. If this goes on then our wives and children will face problems four years from now. That’s a rule. What I mean to say is that suppose there was a water shortage here at any time. but if the whole village is being damaged because of my working there than I’ll quit that job. But I don’t see what I can do if the whole village is suffering on my account because I could be facing that problem too. Man 2: Whatever water is going into the plant is going from under the ground. how many jobs can the company possibly give. The same water will come into our wells. that I’m just one person from the village working there. yet this problem can come up again. mostly the local people were all weavers. Man 2: The rule is for 120 days. then the same problem will happen again.000. After you have worked for 120 days someone else will replace you. After four or five months you are forced to work at something else. Man 1: 49 or 50 people are working there. Neha: So they only keep you for 120 days right? Man 1: Yes. Shira: What work did you do before this? Before you went to work for the company? Man 1: I was working as a weaver of Sari’s. you get work only for four or five months a year. Neha: But just suppose the companies give jobs to everyone? Man 1: Yea suppose the company gives jobs to everyone.

Neha: So most of the workers are from here? Man 2: Most of the workers are from within a ten kilometer radius. Nirmala: IF nothing grows in the fields. The majority are from within a three kilometer radius. there feet get blisters. For example. and even that which is green is not yielding any fruit. April 2nd. People get sick. So they are at best ten in number. Shira: What’s your name? Meherunnisa Shira: what’s your name? Nirmala: All this has dried up. The problem is that no crops grow and they don’t get to eat anything. 2004 Mehandiganj Meherunnisa: When these women work there. the father does farming.Neha: Have some workers also come from outside? Man 2: No one has come from outside. the security guards are from Bihar. They are not able to eat. yet. And crops don’t grow in those fields. Shira: Is pollution a big problem for your father? Meherunnisa: Father. April 2nd. what will we eat? Shira: What’s you’re your name? Sunita: Sunita. 2004. Shira: What do you think about coca cola? 132 . Meherunnisa: Fruits don’t come on those trees. except Bihari’s. Mehandiganj Village.

And now the same kind of water is being dumped there.Sunita: I want that it should leave this place? Shira: why Sunita: Because we are suffering a lot of damage due to it. All the trees and plants are withering away. The water in our wells and hand pumps has gone down a lot. Shira: I want to know about coca cola and the pollution. Shira: When did the pollution begin? Meherunnisa: It has been going on for a long time? Woman: It’s very old? Shira: Do you remember or is it just old? Nandalal: He has been running a movement for a long time. and the villagers of that part of the village are always paying for medicines and medical treatment. And they dump their dirty black water from their factory into the fields. mosquitoes are spreading everywhere and also diseases. how did it affect your life. And the outcome of 133 . Shira: And you? Girl: She is not after Coca cola. there even grass doesn’t grow. nothing grows there. And there are many sicknesses.] And the animals don’t get to graze because where they dump their waste water. it should go away from our country. We are always distraught about paying for our medicines. when did they begin the pollution. Many mosquitoes. and we also gave the DM a petition and the DM of Varanasi asked this company to change the way they were doing things so they installed a pipeline and they began to emit their dirty water in a site a little outside the Bhikharipur village across the GT road. All this is the crisis hovering over us. And we asked the company to make arrangements for an alternative dumping site of their water because we said that due to this water.) Meherunnisa: These people [company] throw broken shards of bottles in our fields. That is why we are running from pillar to post [to get coca cola out of here. how did it affect the farms? Mataii: Right from the time when the coca cola company began here about 7 or 8 years ago they have spreading pollution here. this one is (points to another. the crops have become destroyed. they would die. What ever you saw in the fields. Due to the dumping of dirty water. They said “so should we emit our water into the sky?” Then we started sit-ins and protests against the company. And if animals were to drink that water. It should go away from here. and he is the Goun Bachao Sangarsh Samiti. and all the big trees also withered away. It is causing a lot of damage.

And water used to seep out from that boundary wall and it used to come into my field and because of that all the crops that I used to sow. has also diminished in quantity. and all of that dried up. what happened was that earlier my pumping set used to work even when the water level was at 40 feet below the ground. which crops were damaged? Mattaiilal: I had sown chick pea. Shira: which crops had you sown? Mattaiilal: I had sown chick peas. Shira: Did the pollution start when Coca Cola came into operation or beforehand when the Limca Company was in operation? Nandalal: This factory belonged to the people who made Limca and thumbs up. Now they are dumping their water outside [the village] but their pollution is going on there as well. Not a simple crop used to grow. And they have also forcibly illegally occupied the land belonging to Gram Sabha. 27 bissas= 1 acre) adjoining the factory boundary. Even until now they are refusing to give up that land. that’s what’s going on.this was that since the time the factory has been set up. and its going from here is the only solution to this problem. So was the company before coca cola also spreading pollution in the village [question directed at Mattaiilal and Patel?] or is it only coca cola which is doing that? 134 . and mustard. Shira: Did you understand? Mattaiilal: yes. Shira: When the pollution was going on. Coca Cola bought it only in 1999. And we have become fed up of this company. In my own case. So much so that the water in the wells has diminished a lot in quantity so the amount of drinking water was reduced and also the water needed for irrigation that we get from hand pumps and pumping sets etc. I have one bight (20 bissas= 1 bigga. But it did not grow. And when I had the re-drilling done. Shira: How did Coca cola manage to illegally occupy the land belonging to Graham Sabha when in fact the company has merely bought the land from Parle? Ram Narayan Patel: Coca Cola Company is illegally occupying our Gram Sabha land. and this fact is known to the government and the administration. all of them used to be destroyed. It was ruined. But since the time the factory was set up the level of water began to go down and a time came when my pumping set became totally dysfunctional and I had to get re-drilling done in the ground to reach the new water level. So there are many damages that are resulting from this company. the water level has gone down a lot. The government ordered them to vacate the Gram Sabha land but to this day the government has not taken any step to make the company vacate this land. I had to get it done up to a level of a hundred and twenty feet below the original level of the well. And we are still continuing our sit-ins and protests against these people.

the owner of PARLE Company. they didn’t buy the land they bought the entire company. the coca cola company bought the land from Santosh Kejriwal. Nandalal: Who had slapped a lawsuit on the factory? Man: The Gram Panchayat had. They would have spread a similar pollution. Its not that it was an Indian company so it would not have thrown pollution. Shira: But I thought that the Limca/thumbs up factory were producing Limca and Thumbs up? Nandalal: No. the Coca Cola Company bought it. the Gram Panchayat obtained a courts stay order [restraining order] against the company. 135 . there was no production or pollution here. because its production was not going on. Shira: So the Parle/Limca Company did not extract water? Nandalal: No. they would have also spread pollution.Man: But that factory before Coca Cola was not in operation at that time. So production in the factory was suspended during the lawsuit. Man: Actually. and during the lawsuit itself. you see. they sold the land and transferred the ownership to coca cola. the factory transferred the ownership to coca cola. And it takes any company a minimum of 3 or 4 years to put up its structure. So before coca cola came here. It was still under construction. After that it was putting up its structure. Man: That factory couldn’t make it. And only after that does production start. Man: That factory was not even successful. Nandalal: If the production had been going on. The thumbs up company came herein 1995. and even before the restraining order was obtained. so the factory couldn’t function. Shira: So in 1999 coca cola bought the land Nandalal: No. So the production of the company came to a halt. Kejriwal. IT bought the land here. Nandalal: I explained to you that. Nandalal: You understand? Even before the PARLE Company started production. So after that since 1999 the production has been going on. Before that. He sold it. during that time itself a law suit was slapped on the factory. They tried to work out a deal but when the deal fell through. the earlier factory was just installing its machines in the factory and no production was taking place. before they started producing. Because they had illegally occupied the Gram Sabha land. when that factory was built.

Out of this amount the company has paid an initial amount of 1 crore forty seven thousand rupees. Shira: So the bad water is not there in fields after July? Nandalal: Not after that. Bhikaripur and Bengalipur. So the administration took action against the company under section 133. And it will have to pay up an equal amount of money on top of that as penalty. 136 . And it has to pay the entire amount in three installments. Nandalal: There are two types of land. And it took this water through an underground pipe to the border between two villages. Man: For the time being. and by doing that it had cheated on stamp duty. And on that basis it paid the government a stamp duty of rupees 50 Lakh only.000 or 1500 rupees of seed money. It bought the entire company that produced thumbs up and Limca. The company told the government that it had bought the entire property for six crore rupees. When we began a huge sit-in and protest. So then the company took water out from their fields and dumped it elsewhere. Man: In 1999. So it has to pay a total amount of rupees 3 crore 150. the coca cola company showed on records that it had bought only land. on the lands that surround the company. So on that basis the company had not paid the government stamp duty worth one crore fifty Lakh rupees. The farmer of the village Rajnat Pandey went to the civil court against the company and the judgment of the court arrived in March that the company had stolen that much amount of revenue. But two months later the company told the industry department that its entire property here was worth 31 crore rupees. Nandalal: These people had staged a 12 day sit-in in this very orchard. the water is still going there. Shira: When did the coca cola plant make the pipeline to dispose of the polluted water? Mattaiilal: In July 2003. that problem has been solved. Every year I waste 1. That’s the court order. And the company was forced to pay this amount. Because no crops are growing. The company cheated the government of 1 crore 52 Lakh rupees.000 rupees.Shira: the PARLE Company Nandalal: yes the Parle Company. Shira: So what is the biggest problem in the fields as of now? Mattaiilal: We always have a problem. Nandalal: As stamp duty to the government. Shira: I got it.

can you tell me what happened when it happened? Mattaiilal: That dirty trash that came out of the factory. and the people feel oppressed by the noise pollution. It burns the crops. For the time being. We’ll have to wait and see where they dump that trash. they are storing their trash inside the factory. Man: It contains too much salt. Shira: The Company gave out toxic waste fertilizer to you. they told us to put it into our fields as fertilizer. No one takes it. That is the affect that it had. Man: No I mean this waste. Nandalal: What happened when you put this garbage into the fields? What affect did it have on the farms? Mattaiilal: It hurt the fields. Man: The farmers are distraught. When I brought that trash and spread it into my fields. They said it will work as fertilizer. Shira: So when you put the fertilizer in the field. her name is Shira. what happened? Man: They don’t give us fertilizer. so they keep there trash inside the factory. Shira: Did you go to Mumbai? Mattaiilal and Patel: No we didn’t go to Bombay Nandalal: What changes have come into your farming? 137 . the public is distraught. Man: Wherever this trash has been spread. And our harvest will increase if we do so. I found that wherever I did that even the big tree withered away and the crops were destroyed. and the water pollution that they are spreading. Nandalal: Let me tell you his introduction. the air pollution. the crops have dried up and everything has become neuter. These lands don’t give out good crops.) Nandalal: Now no one accepts that garbage. Shira: And what did you do after that? Man: What could we do after that? (Everyone laughs.Mattaiilal: The lands where the water used dumped earlier. the lands are still bad.

Earlier we used to obtain only twelve or thirteen quintals (1 q= 100 kilo’s) per hector and now we get 50 to 60 quintals per hector of harvest. Neither were there pumping sets. a lot of change has come about. P. And plants just don’t grow. Shira: When did the Goun Bachao Sangarsh Samiti Mattaiilal: When it started or when did it end? Shira: When did it end? Mattaiilal: it’s not closed down its just that no programs are being undertaken for the time being. Shira: And when will it begin again? Mataii: after the elections. This company has become harmful for us. The parliament elections are about to take place. Therefore. Now you have resources for irrigation and fertilizers because of there being many new kinds of resources the harvest has increased compared to earlier times. The farmer of today practices agriculture based on technology. Shira: Tell me your name? P.P Gupta: That of course will go on as long as the coca cola company remains here. Both in terms of harvest size and our health. Shira: What changes have happened over the last fifty years? Mattaiilal: Big changes have come about. People’s harvests have grown. Man: These days the average farmer grows cash crops. After that. Until then. there was no technology or fertilizers available. the Goun Bachao Sangarsh Samiti will keep struggling against them. but now everybody is practicing scientific farming. But because of this Coca cola factory the salt content of the soil has increased by 10 times.Mataii: big changes have come into my farming.P Gupta: My name is P. we will again begin our sit-ins and protests. Earlier there were not many resources as you find today. And due to this big damage is caused to the crops. Shira: What is the Goun Bachao Sangarsh Samiti doing these days? Mattaiilal: For the time being it is postponed.P Gupta. Earlier. There’s no shortage of technology now. From that time onwards. we have come into a real problem. The only problem that we are facing is the one that came about when the company came here. And the harvest used to be pretty low. because earlier science was not that developed. [On the way to the next place…] 138 .

Nandalal: So what do you want now? Bagwandas Yadav: I want that the company should close down. tell us. we were trying to unionize in order to get them to raise our wages.. let it go. ask me what else you want to know and I’ll tell you. They hired me as a casual laborer. and even real brothers are falling out against each other because of company policies. And then they took the help of police to. Shira: Tell me your name? Man: Bagwandas Yadav. Nandalal: So what did the company say? Bagwandas Yadav: The Company said a lot of things. Nandalal: What other demands did you have to the company? Did the company hire you as a permanent employee? Bagwandas Yadav: No. I mean. to get a raise. I was framed in a phony lawsuit. Nandalal: Why? Bagwandas Yadav: Because they are causing a lot of damage.. We tried to unionize Nandalal: for how long did you work there? Bagwandas Yadav: I worked there for three years. After three years I created a union there. Nandalal: No. I don’t want to talk about it. In village after village. some manhandling took place. Nandalal: Why were you forming a union? Bagwandas Yadav: We were forming a union because we were having a problem. After that. That’s it.Man on street: hello Nandalal: What are the problems that you face? Man: I had a lot of problems in the coca cola company. So what happened when you were staging the sit-in? Bagwandas Yadav: When I was staging the sit-in. (While traveling through village= he points to white powder in field) 139 . and some people in the village also opposed us. We were demanding to be made permanent.

And just by looking at it you can see that chemicals are a part of it. So that is the main problem. They had taken photographs of this place and they showed those photographs there. We will try our best to get it to leave. wherever we had to go around we did. All the drains and wells are drying up. Next Village: Shira: What is the name of this village? Nandalal: Nagepur Jamani.C (Provincial Auxiliary Constabulary. and that which I showed you there. What did you do there? Jagrupa: A sit-in. The entire crop. there were not that many. And they brought it and placed it in different places just like that. the company will bring the P. And the number of mosquitoes that plague us since coca cola came here is phenomenal. Shira: It is near Mehandiganj? Nandalal: It is right next to Mehandiganj? Shira: Tell us about coca cola? Nandalal: Tell her what damages occurred. And all the drains and wells are drying up so tell me how will anything grow here? And secondly. I did. because of it.Nandalal: this is the trash that has come out of the company which the company gave to the farmers to use as fertilizer. And also documentaries. you can see that it ruins all the grass there. If only this company could go away from here. all the water gets dried up due to coca cola. but it’s not a good thing and you can see for yourself that. AndShira: What did you learn in Mumbai? 140 . We have to get it out of here. diseases are spreading. Shira: What’s your name? Woman: My name has been written as Jagrupa in all the papers.A. Shira: I also went there.type of police force when regular is not enough) to indulge in violence. and everybody is caught up in that problem. But it has caused a lot of damage over here. Shira: Did you go to Mumbai? Jagrupa: Yes. So they lied to the villagers by saying that it will increase their harvest and it will be a good thing. Earlier. Wherever they have put it. Woman: There is no water. And whenever a sit-in will begin. there was a hollow pit which they filled up and made plain earth and when they sowed a crop in it the entire crop was ruined.

but the company was formed ten years ago.Nandalal: What did you learn in Mumbai? Jagrupa: What did I learn in Mumbai? Nothing. Shira: Did you meet other people from the world? Nandalal: Did you tell other people about your problems? Jagrupa: Yes. by the way. Many people had come. We are village rustics. Man: It’s more 11 years than 10. We explained to those who were able to understand. It all looked very nice/ Man: Do you live here? Nandalal: no she doesn’t Shira: When did the pollution begin? Nandalal: Since when did the dirty water start coming out and since when did they distribute their trash as calling it fertilizer. Coca Cola has not been around that long. Nandalal: Did you like it in the programs there or not? Jagrupa: Yes. I liked it. Everybody was dancing and singing. the country called Bombay is really really nice. Nandalal: How long has it been since they have begun? Jagrupa: You mean since the time they dug [their foundations here]? Nandalal: Yes. Many people had gone there. Jagrupa: It’s been ten years since they dug their foundations here. Nandalal: What do you think of the rally against coca cola? Jagrupa: It was a nice rally. It’s not a new thing. Shira: So you want coca cola to close down? 141 . we used to exchange notes about each other. what can we possibly learn? But. Everybody did their thing. How long has this been going on? Jagrupa: They have been doing this right from the time that they came here.

” When they [the police] had beaten us up. they ran away from there.] Nandalal: What about the fields nearby that they have dumped their trash into? Jagrupa: We showed all this to the pollution officer. we sat in their chairs. Shira: Does everyone in your village think like that or not? Jagrupa: Yea. We just managed to catch one bastard. I want it to close down. An even then the company is unable to see [the consequences of this action. I said to them “I will break open everyone’s skull.” Nandalal: She is saying that the coca cola people should take their company back to America. I say to them “take your company to your country. all of them [pollution officers] ran away. We didn’t let him go. We brought the pollution officer here and showed him all this. Jagrupa: When they ran away. then the police came and told us not to lay a hand on the officials. and they are putting this thing into our fields in the name of fertilizer. earlier the trees which used to yield such plentiful fruit barely 10 or 12 mangos are growing now. what did they say? Jagrupa: They said nothing. Shira: What did you say to the pollution officer? Nandalal: What did you say to him? What did you say to the officials there? Jagrupa: We said to them that “Look at this soil. The Coca Cola Company is not needed here. Jagrupa: All the mangos are withering away. Nandalal: Three or four months have gone by since they went to the pollution officer in Durga Kund.Jagrupa: Yes. “We have not come here to fight.” What else could we say? All of them had run away. Nandalal: They got hold of the main officer saying that “we won’t let you go until you here our complaint. We want to close it down. Nandalal: When all of us went there. there are many in our village who want it to close down. my head was split open. and we said. beat us if 142 . Jagrupa: (unclear) Shira: What did the pollution officer say? Nandalal: When you went there.” Jagrupa: By the time all the officials came back.” And policemen joined their hands and said to me “mother.

He is in affect the owner of the Gram Sabha land. So she says that this time around we will go there with knives and sickles concealed in our persons and we will beat them up. We have to get that company out of here as soon as possible. So if we get beaten we will hit back for sure. Jagrupa: This time around. So what happened later was that the company gave some money to the leader of Gram Panchayat and also to the members of Gram Panchayat and not only this but also the BJP government which was in power at that time many of its administers and local MLA’s got together to get that restraining order vacated. Nandalal: She’s saying that this time around they will go there with weapons in hand. When Coca Cola covered that Gram Sabha land then the village obtained a stay order against the company. they beat us up and we do not retaliate. all the women will go there with weapons. it is the time for harvesting wheat. They made it possible for the land of the Gram Sabha to be transferred to 143 .” But the other people with me told me to suffer the beating in silence and not to beat them back.you want. This time around. Nandalal: Now these people are planning to go to Lucknow [to the chief minister. For two years all the operations of this company came to a stand-still. lets go there with sickles in our hand and get into a real fight. Nandalal: This time she will also come with us. the leader of the Gram Panchayat has all the power. (To Jagrupa about Shira) Woman: Where? Jagrupa: Where. Back at the Lok Samiti Office: Shira: Nandalal: It’s like this. Jagrupa: (unclear) What happened about the Lucknow thing? Nandalal: because it is harvest time [we didn’t go]. Jagrupa: Yes. Jagrupa: When will be the next sit-in? Nandalal: There’s still some time.] They are planning to stage a sit-in in Lucknow but they will go after harvesting the wheat which has ripened by now. Take her (Shira) to Lucknow this time with us. in coca cola? Nandalal: Yes. Whenever there’s a sit-in.

Now they are dumping this water into another village via an underground pipe.” So since the company had to weaken the movement at that time and it had to disunite the people so it promised to give jobs to everyone. So slowly they are also coming to realize this. Shira: So all the Panchayat members are not against coca cola? Nandalal: No. from 1999 to 2003 the water was falling at this place. Now people are slowly beginning to realize that the company only makes fake promises to get what it wants. It’s true that he does not help us. “there is no damage due to this company. saying that since she was a member she had the right to do so. Until July. she committed suicide because the money that the company gave to her. till July 2003. they put a proposal to the coca cola company saying that “we will stand by you but you should give people of our villages jobs in your factory. It’s in a village 1 km from here. They say things like. This created a quarrel between the two of them and at night she consumed poison and committed suicide. And they are giving all the statements to the government in favor of the company. Shira: But the woman said that the Pradhan is not helping them? Is this true? Nandalal: It’s true. Earlier. But there’s one thing that even he when we put pressure on him and then this movement began and many media people came and asked him questions now he is saying that “it is true that coca cola has illegally occupied Gram Sabha land. At present. 144 . not everyone. And it should be our land. And it will be only proper to oppose its presence here.” After coca cola came they promised a new chak road but didn’t give one. It in fact is bringing over laborers from Bihar etc on a contract basis. So now some people are coming forward saying that “we are against the company. she wanted to spend that money according to her own best judgment. One of the members of Gram Panchayat was a woman.the coca cola company. And now that the season has come. And it will not give us jobs or anything like that. Any more questions? Shira: no that’s it. The water that was coming out earlier has stopped now. That’s why all the Panchayat leaders of the surrounding villages have been co-opted by the company through bribes. So the Gram Panchayat transferred this land to coca cola after taking money from it. And we want the company to close down. There are some who are taking sides with us.” Things like that. the water was falling here.” I have with me a copy of the petition that he has given against the company. Whereas her husband wanted to spend that money in his own way. The fact that this company has come into our Gram Sabha is a good thing. When we began the movement against the company and the administration took action against the company. even after six months it has not given permanent jobs to anyone. now the company is dumping that water one kilometer away from here. And permanent jobs. but all the Panchayat members are not like that. none of the Pradhans are with coca cola.

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