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Coke, Pepsi under fire once again

May 18, 2004 18:04 IST

Coca-Cola and Pepsi are under fire once again as noted environmentalist Vandana Shiva is set to launch a nationwide campaign asking the soft drink giants to shut down all the erring plants.

"Through the campaign we would create awareness especially among the youth about the damage these plants are doing to the country's water resources and health of the people," she told PTI on Tuesday.

Soft drinks, hard truths

The aim of the nation-wide campaign starting from May 20 is to make people aware about the ground water pollution the plants were causing and their water rights, she said.

"We will make a list of erring plants in the country with specific areas of problem and send it to the Parliament when it meets," she said.

Terming the duo as "hydro-pirates" she said the plants, which illegally extracted ground water far in excess and did not even pay for the electricity in accordance with the consumption should not be allowed to function.

Accusing the soft drink giants of not having taken the permission of the local bodies before the installation of the plants, she said, "most of the plants flay the rules."

As many as 90 plants installed across the country belonging to the two companies have been extracting millions of litres of water every day continuously depleting community water resources and polluting local water supplies, she said.

Coca-Cola has 58 and Pepsi 32 plants across the country and each plant extracted about 1.5 million litres of ground water per day to which they had no right, she added.

On the depletion of groundwater, Shiva said that more than one trillion litres of clean drinking water was extracted in the light of the spread of soft drinks mining practices, which forced people to drink from contaminated sources.

Citing the Plachimada case where local elected bodies and people using their constitutional rights forced a Coca-Cola plant to shut down on February 17, 2004, she said, "We will replicate this struggle where ever Coca-Cola and Pepsi are mining ground water in violation of natural and national law and our natural constitutional rights."

Environmental activist from other parts of the country have also joined hands with her to create awareness about the illegal extraction and contamination of ground water, which leads to its scarcity and cause health problems, she claimed.

"We will cover all the villages within 20 kilometers of every Pepsi or Coca-Cola plant and make the people aware about the fallouts," she said.

She also charged the soft drinks giants with creating artificial scarcity and contaminating the drinking habits of the people by spreading rumours about the safety of water at public places.

"These companies even destroy drinking water taps at railway stations and bus stations virtually forcing them to buy their products," she claimed.
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