The Privatization of Water in India, how Coca-Cola Destroys the Aquifer

Published on Global (first on The Ecologist), by Amit Srivastava, Dec 31, 2015: never mind the Greenwash – Coca Cola can never be Water Neutral.

… The Coca-Cola company is planning to announce that it is close to replenishing all the water it uses“back to communities and nature” by the end of 2015, well ahead of schedule.

As campaigners that have closely scrutinized Coca-Cola’s operations in India for over a decade, we find the company’s assertions on balancing water use to be misleading.

The company’s track record of managing water resources in and around its bottling operations is dismal, and the announcement is a public relations exercise designed to manufacture an image of a company that uses water sustainably – far removed from the reality on the ground … //

… The myth of ‘water neutrality: … //

… No more pumping of depleted aquifers:

One of the continuing challenges being faced by communities across India is that the Coca-Cola company has continued to operate its bottling plants in severely water-stressed areas, as well as propose new plants in water-stressed areas where the communities have very limited access to potable water – a fundamental human right.

Any company that wants to establish itself as a responsible user of water would begin by not operating in water stressed areas, a demand that has been made of Coca-Cola but which the company seems to ignore because it will deprive it of profits and access to markets.

Coca-Cola is in the habit of making tall claims and generating false opinions favorable to its own cause, whether it is on water use or public health, and this announcement on water replenishment is just that. Just last week, the company was exposed for setting up a front group, Global Energy Balance Network, to confuse the science around obesity.

Attempting to confuse and mislead regulators and scientific opinion is not new to Coca-Cola. In 2006, one of Coca-Cola’s lobbyists in India admitted that his job “was to ensure, among other things, that every government or private study accusing the company of environmental harm was challenged by another study.”

If Coca-Cola truly wishes to rebuild its reputation in India and mitigate the massive environmental damage caused by its operations, it must stop the greenwashing, stop exploiting depleted aquifers, and engage seriously with its critics and impacted communities.

(full text).

(Amit Srivastava is director of India Resource Center, an international campaigning organization. He is also the Director of Global


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