U.S. Water News Online
COCHIN, India -- The government of India's Kerala state has
ordered American soft drink giant Coca-Cola to stop using groundwater
at its local plant until monsoon rains start in June, a decision Coke
officials described as ``unwarranted and unjustified.''
The Kerala government told Coca-Cola to cease drawing water from
wells in Plachimada after the village's officials complained the
company was depleting scarce supplies.
The Perumatty village council, which controls several villages,
including Plachimada, has alleged the Coca-Cola plant withdraws
400,000 gallons of water daily through dozens of wells, leaving local
farmers with parched fields.
Kerala's top elected official, Chief Minister A.K. Antony, said
the villages in the area are facing acute drought and the soft drink
company should not use groundwater until June 15, when monsoon rains
Coca-Cola officials said the company had not received any formal
``But any discriminatory and extreme step against our factory by
the Kerala government is unwarranted and unjustified as the matter is
pending in a court of law,'' Vijay Bhaskar Reddy, a Coca-Cola
communications manager, said from company offices in Hyderabad.
In December, a top court in Kerala had ordered the Coca-Cola plant
to stop using groundwater and arrange to get water through other
The company has challenged that order and the case is pending.
Reddy said Coca Cola would decide its response after it gets the
government order. ``But the Coke factory is not depleting groundwater
resources. We have conducted scientific studies to prove our points
before the court,'' he said.
Coca-Cola has also set up rainwater harvesting facilities at
Plachimada, he said.
Meanwhile, Coca-Cola employees protested the government decision.
``Thousands of families have been dependent on this factory and
any stoppage of work would affect the livelihood of these families,''
said a statement from the Coca-Cola Employment Protection Committee.
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