Indian authorities to evict Coca-Cola from ‘illegally occupied land’

Local authorities in India are reclaiming land from beverage giant Coca-Cola, after the company was found guilty of illegally occupying the land at its bottling plant in Mehdiganj.

According to the authorities, the land – approximately 2,500 square meters within the premises of its bottling plant – is community owned land and “meant for common use by the community”.

The decision to evict Coca-Cola is the result of an order that was passed by the local revenue officer, on December 16, 2013 after an investigation conducted by the authorities at the insistence of local villagers.

Coca-Cola has proposed to expand production at its bottling plant in Mehdiganj five-fold, a move strongly opposed by the local communities because of the declining groundwater conditions in the area.

The eviction means that any structures built by Coca-Cola on the illegally occupied land would be demolished.

Consultancy company, Mott MacDonald, claims to have finished construction of the expanded facility and according to campaign groups, some of the new construction is “evidently on the illegally occupied land”.

However, Coca-Cola has not been able to begin operations in the expanded facility because it does not have all the required permits – primarily due to the objections raised by the community.

In November 2013, UK charity Oxfam announced that Coca-Cola had committed to “zero tolerance” for land grabs in its supply chain.

International campaigning group India Resource Centre’s Amit Srivastava said: “Coca-Cola’s land grab in India, as confirmed by government authorities, makes a mockery of their so called “zero tolerance” commitment towards land grabs.

“If Coca-Cola is serious, they should immediately return the community-owned land to the village council, as demanded by the government authorities,” added Srivastava.

At the time of publishing Coca-Cola was unavailable for comment.

Leigh Stringer

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