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India: Over 40 Detained for Protesting Coca-Cola on World Water Day
Amit Srivastava, India Resource Center
New Delhi (March 22): Over 40 people protesting Coca-Cola’s operations in India have been detained by police authorities in the capital city of New Delhi, India, today.
More than three hundred people had marched to the government of India offices of the Planning Commission to seek action from the government on water issues on World Water Day.
As of this writing, details of the police actions are still coming in and it is not clear what charges, if any, will be filed.
Protesters were demanding that the Planning Commission (chaired by the Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh) take immediate action to curb the severe water shortages being experienced by communities across India as a result of Coca-Cola and Pepsico’s mining of groundwater.
“We are here on World Water Day to bring attention to one of the world’s worst abusers of water, the Coca-Cola company,” said Nandlal Master of Lok Samiti and National Alliance of People’s Movements, one of the organizers of the march and also detained. “The Coca-Cola company has destroyed the lives of thousands of people in India as a result of its thirst for water.”
Carrying signs such as “Coca-Cola Pani Chor” – “Coca-Cola Water Thief”, the protesters were indignant that the government of India has not taken actions to ameliorate the bleak water conditions facing thousands of Indians who live around Coca-Cola and Pepsico bottling plants.
Also detained was Medha Patkar, leader of the National Alliance of People’s Movements.
Coca-Cola's operations in India have come under intense scrutiny as many communities are experiencing severe water shortages as well as contaminated groundwater and soil, directly as a result of Coca-Cola's bottling operations. The company has also been found to sell products in India with dangerously high levels of pesticides.
“The world needs to know that the Coca-Cola company has an extremely unsustainable relationship with water, its primary raw material. Drinking Coca-Cola contributes directly to the loss of lives, livelihoods and communities in India. On this World Water Day, we encourage people around the world to think before they drink Coca-Cola,” said Amit Srivastava of the India Resource Center, an international campaigning organization.