Coca Cola plant and Groundwater Exploitation, India

Description
The Coca Cola company had in 1999 set up a bottling plant in the village of Mehdiganj, about 15 kms from Varanasi (the Holy City) in the State of Uttar Pradesh. The villagers in Mehdiganj depend on agriculture for their livelihood and irrigate their crops using groundwater. They allege that since the establishment of the Coca Cola plant, water levels in the vicinity have dropped drastically, the plant being the biggest user of water in the neighborhood is responsible. This claim is backed by data from the Central Groundwater Board which shows that there indeed was a drop in the level of groundwater in the region witnessed since 2001, and a 2012 report which states that groundwater levels around the plant were much lower than anywhere else in the vicinity. [1] Coca Cola however has denied claims that it is responsible. Additionally, the majority (about 70%) of the company's production of beverages occurs in the summer months of Feb-May when water is scarce. This places stress on the groundwater reserves in the region when they are most needed.
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Basic Data
NameCoca Cola plant and Groundwater Exploitation, India
CountryIndia
ProvinceUttar Pradesh
SiteMehdiganj Village
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Water Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Water access rights and entitlements
Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Specific CommoditiesWater
Project Details and Actors
Project Details
As per the statement of the Hindustan Coca Cola plant the company withdraws 50,000 Cubic metres per annum and it had applied for an increase in its allowed extraction to 250,000 Cubic metres per annum. [4]
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Project Area (in hectares)3
Level of Investment (in USD)25,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population10,000
Start Date01/01/1999
Company Names or State EnterprisesHindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt Ltd (HCCBPL) from United States of America
Relevant government actorsCentral Groundwater Board (CGWB)

Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersLok Samiti : Nagepur

PO Benipur, Dist. Varanasi, UP 221 307 E-mail: [email protected]
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Industrial workers
Local ejos
Forms of MobilizationLawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Hunger strikes and self immolation
Boycotts of companies-products
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsPotential: Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Violations of human rights
Outcome
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseProject cancelled
Withdrawal of company/investment
Development of AlternativesRecognition of the villagers rights to make decisions on their water, a common property resource was the foremost demand of local ejos. Besides this they demanded compensation for crops lost due to land and water pollution and also payment of stamp duty that the company had so far avoided. There wasn't an alternative proposal for operation of the plant put in place by either party. [5]

[5]

http://www.ashanet.org/austin/mehdiganj/faq.html#q8
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.The State Pollution Control Board shut down the plant in June of 2014 when it found the company to be operating in violation of several conditions on its license. It had also not been able to obtain a NOC from the Central Groundwater Board for expansion of its plant capacity, an appropriate outcome, given that the plant already exists in a water -stressed area. [6] Recently the Hindustan Coca Cola company announced that it had cancelled plans for expansion of its Mehdiganj plant. [7] It remains to be seen whether they will still operate in a smaller capacity or whether they will succeed in finding alternative locations in another part of the state.

[6]

http://www.indiaresource.org/news/2014/1027.html [7]

http://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/coca-cola-cancels-expansion-of-varanasi-bottling-plant/article6350728.ece
Sources and Materials
Links

Media Clippings on the Mehdiganj - Coca Cola conflict
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Coca Cola announces cancellation of plans for plant expansion
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Article explaining roots of the conflict
[click to view]

Website for campaign against Coca Cola plant
[click to view]

[7] Coca Cola cancels expansion of Varanasi bottling plant
[click to view]

[6] Coca-Cola Forced to Abandon $25 Million Project in India
[click to view]

Media Links

Some pictures of Mehdiganj and the vicinity of the Coca Cola plant
[click to view]

Other Documents

Protest at Mehdiganj Source: http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Coca-Cola-plant-closed-down-in-Varanasi,-for-water-and-land-pollution-31379.html
[click to view]

Dharna against the Coca Cola Plant Source: http://rt.com/news/167012-coca-cola-factory-closed-india/
[click to view]

Coca Cola bottles stock Source: http://rt.com/news/167012-coca-cola-factory-closed-india/
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorWater Conflict Forum (India) [email protected]
Last update25/09/2014
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