Protest at Coke's Varanasi bottling plant | india | Hindustan Times
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Protest at Coke's Varanasi bottling plant

india Updated: Apr 01, 2008 10:09 IST

Activists led by Medha Patkar and Sandip Pandey picketed a Coca-Cola factory at Mehdiganj on the city outskirts on sunday in defiance of a high court order banning protests near the bottling plant.

The protestors demanded its closure as the UP Pollution Control Board NOC had not been renewed and alleged that the soft drink giant was exploiting the area's ground water and natural resources.

Police said some 15 activists including Magsaysay awardees Patkar and Pandey besides National Alliance of People's Movements convenor Nandlal Master were detained for defying an Allahabad High Court order banning protests in a 300-metre radius of the plant.

They said the names of Pandey, a BHU alumnus, and Master figured in the list of 16 people banned from protesting in front of the plant.

Pandey alleged the no objection certficate had expired last month and the company lacked official approval from the pollution control board so "it should be legally closed down".

Coca-Cola said in a statement "we have reduced water consumption by over 40 per cent between 2005 and 2007 and operations would reach a net zero balance with respect to ground water usage in the Mehdiganj plant in 2008".

It was, however, silent on the NAPM protest, held under the 3-day programme of NAPM on water rights.

The factory in Rajtalab police area witnessed a similar protest on November 14, 2004 when 300 activists, including Master, were detained.

They have alleged that the company violated EU emission guidelines and its soft drinks contain high levels of pesiticide and metallic residues.