New Internationalist

Water shortage: the real thing

Issue 427

Kala Dera, in Rajasthan, was declared a drought area by the Indian Government in September, following this year’s failed monsoons. But the situation has been worsened by Coca-Cola’s operations in the region. Their controversial bottling plant draws on the same groundwater sources as those used by the local community and farmers, with recent data revealing that groundwater levels plummeted by 5.83 meters in just one year between May 2007 and May 2008 – a huge drop never before witnessed in Kala Dera. Coca-Cola’s use of the groundwater reaches its peak in the summer months, exactly when water shortages in the community are at their worst.

‘The Coca-Cola Company is denying our fundamental human right to water by continuing to extract groundwater from a rapidly falling aquifer. Every drop of water that Coca-Cola extracts is water taken away from the children, women and men who are unable to meet their basic water needs, leave alone the farmers who are seeing their crops fail,’ explains Mahesh Yogi of the Kala Dera Sangharsh Samiti, a local community group that has been opposing the plant since 2002. ‘Coca-Cola has contributed significantly to the falling water tables and they must shut down and leave Kala Dera.’

Last year a Coca-Cola-funded study confirmed the concerns being raised by the community, showing that the company was a significant contributor to the water crisis. But Coke has refused to follow the study’s recommendations: to relocate the plant or bring in water from outside the area to meet its needs.

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