Thursday, April 24, 2008

Coca-Cola continues to increase its liabilities in India by engaging in unethical practices

A recent study funded by Coca-Cola confirms that the company’s bottling plants worsen the severity of water shortages around some of its bottling plants in India. The report recommends the closure of a bottling plant in Kala Dera, Rajasthan, and warns Coca-Cola about dropping water tables in Mehdiganj in Uttar Pradesh.

Coca-Cola shareholders were cautioned about the fact that the soft-drinks giant continues to increase its liabilities in India by engaging in unethical practices, at the company’s annual general meeting in Wilmington, Delaware, USA.

“The Coca-Cola company management is doing a great disservice to its shareholders by hiding the real extent of the liabilities the company has incurred in India, and it will come back to haunt them. The longer the shareholders wait to seriously address concerns in India, the greater the liability,” said Amit Srivastava of the India Resource Centre, who attended the meeting and spoke on behalf of campaigns against the company in India.

A recent study funded by Coca-Cola confirmed that the company’s bottling plants worsen the severity of water shortages around some of its bottling plants in India. The report also recommended the closure of a bottling plant in Kala Dera, in Rajasthan, and warned Coca-Cola about dropping water tables in Mehdiganj in Uttar Pradesh.

The report, released in January 2008, was carried out by the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) -- an ally of the company -- and was a scathing indictment of Coca-Cola’s operations in India, particularly on the issue of water management.

One of Coca-Cola’s largest bottling plants in India -- in Plachimada, Kerala -- has been closed since March 2004 because Coca-Cola is unable to get the necessary environmental clearances to operate it.

Communities campaigning against Coca-Cola in India have vowed to hold the company financially and criminally liable for the damage it has caused. The state of Kerala is considering filing criminal charges against the company for depleting water resources and causing pollution. “Coca-Cola’s own report as well as government studies have confirmed what we have been saying all along -- that the company has worsened the water crisis for thousands of people,” said Nandlal Master of Lok Samiti which coordinates the community campaign against Coca-Cola in Mehdiganj.

“Coca-Cola must cease its bottling operations in Mehdiganj and compensate the thousands of farmers who have lost their livelihoods as a result of declining water tables, courtesy Coca-Cola,” Master added.

“What other confirmation does Coca-Cola need to shut down the plant in Kala Dera,” asks Rameshwar Kudi of the Kala Dera Sangharsh Samiti, the local group that has led the campaign for the plant’s closure. “Continuing to operate the plant even after its own study has found the company guilty of worsening water shortages is criminal, and we will make sure that Coca-Cola pays heavily for the damage it has caused.”

Coca-Cola was forced to agree to an assessment of its operations as a result of campaign efforts at the University of Michigan that demanded the assessment for continuing business with Coca-Cola.

At last year’s AGM, Coca-Cola company management recommended a vote against a resolution that called for a “report on the potential environmental and public health damage from its plants in India”. The resolution was not passed.

Coca-Cola has responded to growing protests against it in India through a variety of so-called corporate social responsibility initiatives, including the much-hyped Every Drop Counts campaign launched last year. One of its initiatives in India is rainwater harvesting, which the company announced with much fanfare as a result of growing opposition to its water management practices.

People, however, assert that these initiatives are not genuine, something that the TERI report confirms by saying: “All the recharge shafts that were randomly visited were found to be in a dilapidated condition.”

“Coca-Cola’s own assessment has shown that the company has acted irresponsibly by locating many of its bottling plants in India in areas with water scarcity, and, as a result, exacerbating already existing water crises in India,” said Srivastava. “Even from a dollars and cents perspective, Coca-Cola’s practices in India are plain wrong. It is time for shareholders to demand accountability from the Coca-Cola company management.”

TERI’s 500-page report ‘Independent, Third Party Assessment of Coca-Cola Facilities in India’ calls for the closure of Coca-Cola’s bottling plant in the village of Kala Dera in Rajasthan. Citing the widespread water shortages being experienced by villages around the plant, it recommends either that alternative sources of water be found (a highly impractical option) or that the plant is relocated or shut down altogether.

The report came as a result of high-profile student-led campaigns in the US, Canada and the UK; over 20 colleges and universities have removed Coca-Cola products from their campuses. The University of Michigan placed the Coca-Cola company on probation in 2006, and asked for an independent assessment of its operations in India.

The report assessed only six of Coca-Cola’s 50 bottling plants in India.

Source: http://www.infochangeindia.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=7080&Itemid=63

So What the Government of INDIA doing????????? What is assesment for other soft drink giant like Pepsi????????



Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

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