RESOURCE WARS: Coca Cola in India

  • AP has allotted 21.5 lakh litres of water per day from the Krishna Water Main Canal to the Coca Cola plant at Atmakuru, Guntur
  • The canal water is specifically meant for drinking and irrigation
  • The water has been promised for 10 years at Rs 4,500/mn gallon

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It’s farmers vs Coca Cola again, this time in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh. Even as several villages in the area grapple with acute drinking water shortage and farmers seek better irrigation facilities, the government has allotted 2,150 cubic metre or 21.5 lakh litres of water from the river Krishna per day to M/s Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages Pvt Ltd at its plant in Atmakuru village. The government order (GO Ms. No. 26), issued on March 26, 2010, has triggered protests by farmer bodies. The CPI, CPI(M) and the Telugu Desam Party say the state government is compromising the farmers’ right to water by giving it to a beverage company.

Coca Cola, which has been operating in Atmakuru for over a decade now, earlier relied on groundwater for its operations. It sought permission to use water from the Krishna Water Main Canal in December 2007. Permission now granted, it has left locals fuming. According to the GO, Coca Cola can use the 2,150 cu m a day for 10 years. The annual outflow of water will be 0.02 tmc (thousand million cubic feet). The firm will lay its own pipeline and water meter, and will be charged industrial rates (Rs 4,500 per million gallon). The Krishna Water Main canal is part of the Buckingham canal, which is specifically meant to meet irrigation and drinking water requirements in Prakasam and Guntur districts.

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