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  • » 06/17/2014, 00.00

    INDIA

    Coca-Cola plant closed down in Varanasi, for water and land pollution

    Nirmala Carvalho

    "A great success after 14 years of struggle" said fr. Anand Mathew IMS. The catholic priest was imprisoned twice for his support to local people. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) found that the waste from Varanasi plant had exceeded levels of lead, cadmium or chromium.

    Mumbai (AsiaNews) - "A great success after 14 years of struggle", said to AsiaNews fr. Anand Mathew IMS, commenting the closure of Coca-Cola plant in Mehdiganj, closed to Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh). On June 6 the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the primary central government agency for monitoring pollution, has ordered the plant to be closed. It was held responsible for water shortages and pollution.

    Since 2002 Indian Missionary Society (IMS) fr. Mathew has opposed the plant and supported local population. "For this struggle I was imprisoned in 2004 and 2005. Our movement has been made with women and marginalized farmers. Nowhere in India there is such a platform where people of different denomination come together. It was something very unusual for me, and it gives a lot of hope for the future Church, a Church beyond denominations", said the catholic priest, who's been director of cultural centre Vishwa Jyoti Communications in Varanasi for over a decade.

    Coca-Cola's bottling operations in Mehdiganj have been the subject of intense public protests since 2003 and the emerging details of Coca-Cola's planned expansion have anguished many community members. Mehdiganj is an agrarian area and farmers use the same depleting groundwater resource to meet all their water needs.

    In addition to over-extraction of groundwater, Coca-Cola is also guilty of polluting groundwater resources around its bottling plants in India. In 2003, the CPCB tested the waste from nine Coca-Cola bottling plants and found that all nine were violating the hazardous waste laws of India. CPCB found that the waste from all nine bottling plants had exceeded levels of lead, cadmium or chromium. Meanwhile, Coca-Cola was distributing its toxic waste to farmers around its bottling plants, as fertilizer.

    In the case of Mehdiganj, CPCB found excessive levels of cadmium and chromium in the waste from Coca-Cola bottling plant that it had tested. Subsequently, two others tests conducted by other groups (in 2008 and 2010) have also found contamination in and around Coca-Cola's bottling plant in Mehdiganj, including heavy metals.

    The company has consistently denied the allegations.

     

     

     

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    See also

    28/11/2015 INDIA
    Uttar Pradesh:Coca-cola needs to pack up and go
    According to 18 village councils in Mehdiganj plant is cause of water scarcity. The company draws from local sources water needed for production. Environmentalist: "Coca-Cola is not welcome. It portrays itself internationally as a responsible water user, while in India it consumes a vital resource". In a 2012 study the company denies the allegations.

    22/05/2010 CHINA – UNITED STATES
    Confident in the Chinese market, Pepsi to invest more than US$ 2.5 billion
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    10/09/2012 INDIA
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    To stop the construction of the plant, fishermen refrain from going into the sea, to the detriment of their survival. Yesterday moments of tension between 3 thousand anti-nuclear activists and 4 thousand policemen. No violence. A local priest: "A humanitarian crisis looms large."

    04/09/2008 CHINA – UNITED STATES
    Coca Cola set to invade China’s soft-drink market
    US multinational launches takeover bid for Huiyuan Juice Group, China’s leading fruit juice maker with an offer worth US$ 2.5 billion, three times the Chinese company’s current value.

    05/12/2014 INDIA
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