DThe state government of Kerala in south India has banned the production and sale of Coca-Cola and Pepsi in the state. The companies will be asked to close their operations entirely.
Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan stated today that the ban was being imposed because of the health hazards posed by Coca-Cola and Pepsi.
“We have arrived at the decision to ask both Coke and Pepsi to stop production and distribution of all their products, based on scientific studies which have proved that they are harmful,” said Mr. Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan.
Chief Minister Achuthanandan also pointed to the four year campaign by the community of Plachimada in Kerala where the community has protested falling water levels and pollution of the groundwater and soil – directly as a result of the Coca-Cola company’s bottling operations in the area.
The Coca-Cola bottling plant in Plachimada has remained shut down since March 2004 because of community opposition. Government and independent studies have confirmed the presence of toxic waste around Coca-Cola’s bottling plants across India. “We will take steps to close down the Pepsi factory in Puddussery village in Palakkad district of Kerala,” the chief minister added.
Last week, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a leading public interest research and advocacy group in India, released a study that found a “cocktail of between three to five different pesticides in all samples” of Coca-Cola and Pepsi products they tested in India. On an average, the CSE study said, the pesticide residues were 24 times higher than European Union (EU) standards and those proposed by the Bureau of India Standards (BIS), the government body responsible for standardization and quality control.
Coca-Cola and Pepsi have now been banned in government and educational institutions by many states in India, including Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Chattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Delhi.
“We welcome the move to completely ban the manufacturing and sale of Coca-Cola and Pepsi in Kerala,” said R. Ajayan of the Plachimada Solidarity Committee, a statewide coalition that has been campaigning on the water depletion and pollution issues.
“The cola companies have inflicted a lot of damage to the fabric of the community in Plachimada by destroying lives and livelihoods. We are now putting the companies on notice that they must make reparations to the affected community members, and the campaign will move to a new stage,” said R. Ajayan.
Efforts are underway in India to develop regulations that will govern safety standards for soft drinks to ensure consumer safety. The Centre for Science and Environment has accused the Coca-Cola company and Pepsico, as well as “powerful interests in the government”, of blocking the adoption of the standards.
“The government of India must also ensure that there are laws that protect our groundwater, and that regulations are in place to put an end to the kinds of rampant pollution that we have seen with the Coca-Cola company,” said Amit Srivastava of the India Resource Center, an international campaigning organization.
The Supreme Court of India has also ordered Coca-Cola and Pepsico to reveal the ingredients in their products in six weeks, or face a potential national ban.
For more information, visit www.IndiaResource.org
R. Ajayan, Plachimada Solidarity Committee (India) Tel: +91 9847142513
Amit Srivastava, India Resource Center (US) +1 415 336 7584 E: firstname.lastname@example.org