Civil society and people's movements raise a strong
voice against Coke's pernicious treatment of human and
environmental resources. Nandlal Master's
article is an exhaustive manifest of grassroots struggle
against the heavy-handed corporate-state uncivil union
We, the people of Mehendiganj wish to bring the attention
of the whole world to the glaring example of an impending
World Danger of Drinking Water in the form of its open
commercialization by Coca Cola and Pepsi Companies. In
fact the problem is not new to you, neither is your collaboration
with us in our struggle against it, new. Yet we would
like you to note some facts concerning the present condition
both of the depletion of water and of our struggle against
The Hindustan Coca Cola company established its bottling
plant in Mehndiganj village of Varanasi District of Uttar
Pradesh, North India, in 1995. Ever since then, the people
of Mehndiganj have been constantly protesting against
it. The reasons for protest are manifold.
1. Illegal Possession of Village Land
The Company has forcefully occupied more than 33 decimal
of village land despite the resistance and notices of
the village authorities. District authority and the Court
had found them guilty and issued notices to return this
public land. But the money power of the company had no
troubles in keeping the land against this country’s
law and people.
The company had also escaped with the theft of stamp duty
worth rupees one crore five lacs and seventy five thousand.
Interestingly the Varanasi court had a judgment passed
against them in this regard to pay a penalty of Rs. 3,01,50,000/-
on 3 March 2003, which the company’s underhand power
has succeeded to ignore to this day!!!
2. Coca Cola’s enormously Polluting Waste
The company had made false publicity among the villagers
that their waste would be so pure as edible and manure.
But the experiments and experiences have proved to the
whole world that not only their waste but the Cola itself
is poisonous!, that the polluted water which the company
releases contains heavy content of Cadmium and lead which
has in fact destroyed the entire agricultural crops of
the area causing unbearable losses to the village farmers.
Surveys have already manifested that various intestinal
and skin diseases increase in the surrounding villages
during the last five years. Many written complaints on
this fact have been made to the administration. Both administration
and Pollution Board have made study and discovered the
truth of the sicknesses and losses. Despite all these
documented facts none of these machineries have ever succeeded
to take even a single step to take action against the
company, nor to give compensation to the poor villagers.
3. Coca Cola’s unjust management against its Employees
Coca Cola is one of the highest profit making multinational
companies of the world. But the local people have come
to experience the cut-throat behaviors of the company
to its employees. It has kept all its workers as non permanent.
When the employees took steps to unite to demand for just
wages, the company dared to use illegal forces, dismissed
many and got 13 of its employee leaders implicate in fictitious
crimes and court cases for which they are still being
4. Depletion of Ground Water by Coca Cola for Commercial
The most heinous crime against the people of Mehndiganj
and against the whole of our country is the massive exploitation
of ground water, about 250,000 liters of water per day!
This colossal use of ground water has dried up open wells
and run down the level of bore wells from 30 feet to 50
feet, in this Gangetic Plain so that more than 20 villages
are undergoing terrible scarcity of water not only for
irrigation but also for drinking! The drought of last
two years has worsened this situation leaving people with
no alternative than to drive away the exploiters of their
5. The Shamefully Poor Response of the Government to
The government of Uttar Pradesh has been saying that they
are concerned about the awful condition of drinking water
in the state, and is considering closing deep wells of
the government for the sake of the shallow wells of the
The fact is that when water is drawn for irrigation only
8 to 10% of the water is used for crops, all the rest
90% returns to the source. But commercialization and chemicalization
of water uses the total content of the water drawn out.
We have only one question to the UP government, “Is
it in a position to stop commercialization of ordinary
people’s drinking water by Coca Cola”??
A parliamentary committee under the leadership of H’ble
Sharad Pawar had found that Pepsi and Coke contained heavy
contents of poisonous contents after a study on the recommendation
of the NGO institution CSI. But all that the whole parliament
could do was to remove these soft drinks from their canteens,
hinting as if to the whole country that even if the entire
nation goes to doom, what concerns to them is their own
The people of Mehendiganj have been holding peaceful protests
against Coca Cola according to the norms of democracy
ever since we started to see the deadly dangers it is
spreading in the whole area. The Mehendiganj panchayat
had unanimously passed a resolution to cancel the license
of the company in May 2005.
Now it has become clear to the people of Mehendiganj
and to the whole common man of the country that our government
is bought by such companies and their mafia to the extent
that people are left with one single option to FIGHT UNTO
DEATH, for their own survival. Now people and all People’s
Movements have determined to fight this decisive battle.
Now the government which runs with each hard earned penny
of the common people and their vote will have to make
a decision whether it is with the people or with the companies
who fill their pockets. Now is the time to prove that
power of justice and truth is still with the people and
not with any corrupt politician.
So we the people of Mehendiganj have determined to sit
on strike indefinitely in front of the Hindustan Coca
Cola Bottling Plant at Mehendiganj indefinitely until
the following demands of our people are fulfilled by the
1. Cancel the license of Coca Cola company
2. Prohibit the Coca Cola company from its daily exploitation
of 2.5 million liters of ground water.
3. Release the public land illegally occupied by the company
from the village panchayat of Mehendiganj
4. Stop the pollution caused by the wastes of Coca Cola,
and compensate the people of Mehendiganj for the losses
of life and crops.
5. Deposit the dwindled stamp duty of more than rupees
30 million into the treasury immediately
6. Take back all the fake cases into which Coca Cola has
dragged our peaceful protesters, and its employees.
7. Ensure a country-wide block on the poisonous soft drinks
of Pepsi and Coke
Hence may we request you to ensure your participation
in this revolution physically with your presence and symbolically
with your encouragement, support and contributions.
Contact NAPM at: email@example.com