India finally fights back

In a report released on World Water Day, Coca-Cola is being held liable for approximately $48 million in damages. This decision was passed down by a High Power Committee established by the government of Kerala in India. This decision was part of a long-deserved slap on the wrists of Coca-Cola for depleting groundwater basins and other untold environmental damage.
Shut down in March 2004, the bottling plant in Plachimada will finally pay the price. This bottling plant has remained closed for the last 6 years as a result of the strong community action. Environmental activists also helped convict Coca-Cola. As stated in the report, “The Committee thus has compelling evidence to conclude that the HCBPL has caused serious depletion of the water resources of Plachimada, and has severely contaminated the water and soil.” HCBPL is the Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Private Limited, a subsidiary of Coca-Cola.
The Committee has concluded that Coca-Cola shall be held responsible for the damages, and must compensate the people effected by financial losses, health problems, loss of educational possibilities, and pollution in the groundwater. The report clearly stated that the $48 million was not a maximum fine by any means-it was a mere estimate.
I applaud the High Power Committee for taking a stance against Coca-Cola in an attempt to protect it’s people and fight off greedy corporations. It is time that multi-national corporations such as Coca-Cola realize that they can no longer bully poor individuals. The government of Kerala, India has finally demonstrated the power of communal action in response to corporate injustice.
Brian O’Neill
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