LUCKNOW, INDIA: Authorities in Northern India said Friday they would demolish an “illegal” Coca-Cola bottling plant at the centre of protests over accusations it is extracting too much groundwater.
The local revenue administration ordered demolition of the Mehdiganj plant last month in Varanasi in the state of Uttar Pradesh, saying it was built on village council land and was “illegal”.
The village administration earlier imposed a 126,000 rupee ($2,000) fine on Hindustan Coca Cola Company Pvt, a unit of Coca-Cola, the world’s largest soft-drinks maker.
India is one of Coke’s fastest-growing markets thanks to an expanding middle class.
Subordinate Revenue Administrative Officer Manoj Rai told AFP Friday he plans to “implement the demolition orders in a couple of days. There is no question of not following the order”.
But Coca-Cola India spokesman Kalyan Ranjan said the company has “all the documents to prove our land ownership,” adding the soft drinks maker had “appealed against this order”.
Further comment from Coca-Cola was not immediately available.
The Varanasi bottling plant, one of 58 that Atlanta-based Coca Cola has in India, has been at the centre of protests for years with demonstrators accusing the company of creating major water shortages through excessive extraction of water and polluting groundwater and soil.