“Our bottling Plant at Mehandiganj, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh Plant has been in operation for last 15 years complying with all regulatory approvals and applicable laws. However, in an unprecedented move, Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) withdrew the Consent to Operate, to the Hindustan Coca-Cola Plant (HCCB), earlier this month. Consequently, HCCB moved to the Hon’ble National Green Tribunal (NGT) challenging the order of UPPCB. The Tribunal having heard the two parties has admitted the appeal of Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt. Ltd. The matter will comes up before the Tribunal again on June 20th, 2014.

As part of the withdrawal of the consent, we were not allowed or even asked to present any facts or explain our position – in essence, being denied due course. HCCB is a responsible and law abiding Corporate Citizen that has always complied with all regulatory norms both in letter and spirit, abided by this order of UPCCB as well.

As regards the misleading and false reports to the contrary, we use water very responsibly and judiciously. We recognize that water is critical to our business as integral to community needs and therefore we have a shared interest is the sustainability of water resources.

We have continuously been improving our manufacturing systems and processes to make our operation more water efficient. During the period 2004-2013, the Water Usage Ratio (Water required to produce a litre of beverage) has improved by over 34 percent. It currently stands at just 2.54 (as of end 2013). Given the efficiency in water usage, our total annual withdrawal of groundwater is only 67,344 Kilolitres (at the end of 2013) which is much below the allowed water withdrawal limits sanctioned by the regulatory authorities in Uttar Pradesh. Needless to state therefore that if the Plant is using lesser water currently than it was doing so in 2004, the effluent discharge cannot be more than what it was in 2004.

On the larger issue of ground water depletion in and around Mehandiganj (Varanasi), we must cite a March 2012 report by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB). On a complaint filed by from Lok Samiti regarding drying up of dug-wells, village ponds, hand pumps and hardship to farmers for irrigation water around the plant, the CGWB undertook a basic survey in and around the our bottling plant in February 2012. In its report, CGWB observed that this drying up etc was not due to withdrawal of ground water by Coca-Cola plant. The report further mentions that there is declining trends in 7 blocks of Varanasi district but in Araziline block, the declining rate is slightly higher. Inspite of this decline, there was water in ponds, dug-wells and good crop of wheat and mustard observed in the fields.

HCCB is committed to work with communities and all other stakeholders in the area of ground water replenishment and believe the due process of law will find that we have acted in a manner consistent with our guiding principles and the best interests of the communities we serve.”