Coca Cola Sustainability Review silent on India:NGO

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New Delhi, Nov 6 (UNI) Critical issues facing Coca-Cola's operations in India do not find a mention in the company's 2007/2008 Sustainability Review, which is surprising, says an international environment NGO.

The company gives itself high marks in its sustainability report which covers areas such as the workplace, environment and community engagement, it said.

However, the omission of the issues facing the company in India - various community campaigns accusing it of creating water shortages and pollution - raise the question whether Coca-Cola's sustainability report is an attempt to manufacture a green image of itself rather than actually addressing the critical challenges facing the company's operations, said the India Resource Center, which is working for sustainablity.

The omission of issues in the country is particularly glaring given that a Coca-Cola funded study, released in early 2008, highlighted severe shortcomings in the company's water management and pollution prevention practices, and questioned the sustainability of the company's operations in India, Mr Amit Srivastava of the NGO said.

The India Resource Centre pointed out that the company was forced to agree to an assessment of its operations in India, the result of a sustained student campaign in the US, and assessment was conducted by the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).

TERI had recommended that Coca-Cola shut down its bottling plant in Kala Dera because "the plant's operations in this area would continue to be one of the contributors to a worsening water situation and a source of stress to the communities around." It had also said that the company did not respect the rights of farmers and groundwater conditions, and it had located its plants in India from a "business continuity" perspective without due consideration to community impacts.

Besides, the company did not meet the company's own waste management standards at all the plants surveyed.

In response to the growing criticism of its operations in India, the company has already announced that they will become water neutral in India by 2009. However, in the Sustainability Review, the company states that "we do not yet have a date for when we hope to attain water neutrality as a Company," the NGO said.


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