Leaders of two rural communities in Kerala, a state in southwestern India, are going head-to-head with Coca-Cola and Pepsi, accusing the companies’ local bottling plants of depleting groundwater and triggering shortages. One village government revoked the water-use permit of a Pepsi plant last week, and another village denied a license renewal to a Coke plant last month, though its decision was overturned in court. Locals have been picketing in front of the Coca-Cola factory, and veteran environmental campaigners in India are endorsing the locals’ activities and may spark more widespread protests against the multinationals. “If we don’t stop this unlimited exploitation of groundwater, the ecological damage will be very serious,” said Krishna Das, a Parliament member from a local district. He warns that disruption of water supplies could affect not just drinking water but also irrigation in an area known for its rice paddies. For their part, Coca-Cola and Pepsi deny the charges and insist that groundwater levels have not been affected by their facilities.
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