Lucknow (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The political authorities of 18 villages in the state of Uttar Pradesh have requested the closure of the local Coca-Cola plant, located in Mehdiganj, in the district of Varanasi. According to residents in fact, the plant is the main cause of the water scarcity of the territory, extracting from underground water sources for its production needs. But the globally renowned company has rejected all allegations on the basis of a study conducted in 2012.
The request was report this morning by Reuters and immediately made the rounds of all the Indian media. The villages are located in the area of Mehdiganj, which is also the constituency of the Indian prime minister Narendra Modi. The authorities complain that the lack of water dates back to 1999, that is since the plant started industrial production.
Amit Srivastava, from the India Resource Centre, said: "The leaders of the village council representing the voice of the people and believe that Coca-Cola is not welcome in Mehdiganj. It's time that Coca-Cola face up, pack up and go away. " He added that the US company "paints itself internationally as a responsible water user, when in fact in India it uses the water resources to the detriment of the poor, women, children, farmers and livestock. All are forced to live with a little water because Coca-Cola extracts from the locla reservoir in search of profit. "
Environmentalists argue that the plant uses the same aquifer also used by the locals for daily needs, such as personal use, livestock or irrigation. Coca-Cola is "competing" against the population.
Srivastava reports that 18 villages have written to the State Pollution Control Board, which provides license to the company, asking for authority to prevent this extraction. According to recent data also, the plant "used excessive water in 2011". Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt ltd has replicated with other data from a study conducted in 2012, according to which no liability is attributable to the company.
India has only opened its market to foreign direct investment and retail trade in foreign supermarkets in recent years, approvedafter a hotly contested reform. In recent months, another foreign product has come under the spotlight, the popular Maggi products from Nestle. These noodles were at first removed from the shelves of supermarkets over alleged toxicity and then reintroduced after checks proved that the product was fit for consumption.