Coca-Cola apparently runs into yet another trouble and to a certain extent, it’s their own creation. Two years back, the soft drinks industry was rocked by allegation that most of them have pesticide residues. In order to shed the slur, Coca-Cola commissioned a report from a Delhi-based environmental research group, Energy and Resources Institute.
Though the research group gave a clean chit to the company with regards to pesticides, it advised Coca-Cola to shut down its Kaladera plant in Rajasthan for depleting water supplies in the water-thirsty state. The group pointed out that water is a scarcity in Rajasthan and the Kaladera plant was further depleting the reserve. In such a case, Coca-Cola should consider some other water supply, relocate or just close the plant, it said. But, although it is easier to shut down, will it eventually help meet the villagers’ plight?
Incidentally, the villagers themselves have taken up the issue a number of times in the past, expressing concerns how the plant was robbing them off the scare water supply. The report echoed a similar view and said,
(the plant would) continue to be one of the contributors to a worsening water situation and a source of stress to the communities around.
The Coca-Cola management, however, made it clear that despite the suggestion, they are not pulling the shutters down. Atul Singh, chief executive of Coke’s India division, said,
The easiest thing would be to shut down, but the solution is not to run away. If we shut down, Rajasthan is still going to have a water problem. We want to work with farming communities and industries to reduce the amount of water used.
Yes, working on finding ways to use water in an efficient way and is perhaps the best solution in the long-run, as similar problems may crop up in these water-starved regions drawing attention of some other big industrial powers! Though it’s not very clear whether the Coca-Cola plant would be relocated, the villagers can at least find some solace in the fact that the report once again brought to attention their plight. And in case, the plant is relocated or it decides to have an alternative water source, none would be happier than these poor villagers, who have been fighting a tough battle against a multinational giant.
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