DEhradun, April 23, 2013E
Forty hectares (about 85 acres) of land with more than 60,000 trees of different species such as Shisham, Kher, Bakkaiyan, and Sagwan, is in danger. On the 17th of April 2013 the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, Vijay Bahuguna, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Private Limited, allowing them to establish a 600 crore bottling plant on this land, of which Coca-cola has already handed over a cheque of 1.6* crore. In response the villagers of Charba and their pradhaan (village head) congregated at this forest to declare a chipko movement in protection of this green belt on the 21st of April 2013. The Navdanya team was present at this meeting to extend our support and distributed brochures which highlight the hazards of Coca-cola and such bottling units to the local environment and, consequently, the people.
On Mother Earth Day 2013 (April 22nd) in response to the village level protests against the Coca-cola bottling unit that is to be set up in Charba village, Vikasnagar, Uttarakhand, with agreement from the state government, the Navdanya team focused its energies towards this area with the intention to continue the resistance and remember why such a plant will not only effect Charba but the surrounding areas as well. With the support of Mr. Shiv Singh Tomar, the principle of the Government Primary School in Usmanpur, Navdanya involved the youth and young minds from the area by planting trees at this government school. The Navdanya team, including the director Dr. Vinod Bhatt, along with five students from Shivalik College of Engineering’s Ecoclub began by talking about Mother Earth Day (Prithvi Ma Divas), the meaning and importance of such an event and how the children can be involved. Then the children, school faculty, Shivalik college students and Navdanya team collectively planted five trees, which will from now on be cared for by the students.
The Navdanya team, accompanied by Mr. Tomar, proceeded to the Charba gram panchayat office in Charba village. Here we planted an Ashoka tree in front of the office along with village members and elders as a symbol of our collective dedication and drive to continue working for Mother Earth. To gather village voices together in a petition, the Navdanya team formulated a petition arguing against the establishing of a Coca-cola bottling unit in Charba village. Mr. Pramod Kimothi presented this to the villagers in attendance, who signed their agreement and accepted the petition in order to collect further support by gathering signatures from other village members.
The day concluded with hope and resolve to take the issue of the Coca-cola bottling plant further. In May 2013 Navdanya and the Charba village members will conduct an aazadi bachao aandolan (a movement to defend freedom) where a demonstration will take place at the Navdanya Biodiversity Conservation Farm, Ramgarh, Dehradun.
Doon Valley Declaration
Water is the basis of life; it is the gift of nature; it belongs to all living beings on earth. Water is not private property, it is a common resource for the sustenance of all. Water is a fundamental human right. It has to be conserved, protected, and managed. It is our fundamental obligation to prevent water scarcity and pollution to preserve it for generations. Water is not a commodity. We should resist all criminal attempts to marketize, privatize, and corporatize water. Only through these means we can ensure the fundamental and inalienable right to water for people all over the world. The Water Policy should be formulated on the basis of this outlook. The right to conserve, use, and manage water is fully vested with the local community. This is the very basis of water democracy. Any attempt to reduce or deny this right is a crime. The production and marketing of the poisonous products of the Coca-Cola and Pepsi Cola corporations lead to total destruction and pollution and also endanger the very existence of local communities. The resistance that has come up in Plachimada, Puducherry, and in various parts of the world is the symbol of our valiant struggle against the devilish corporate gangs who pirate our water. We who are in the battlefields are in full solidarity and are putting up a resistance against the tortures of the commercial forces. We exhort people all over the world to join us as we boycott the products of Coca-Cola and Pepsi Cola.
Coca-Cola, Pepsi Cola ‘Quit India’
From the experiences of Plachimada in Kerala, Kaladere in Rajasthan and Mehandi Ganj in Uttar Pradesh, where similar bottling units have been set up in the past, we have learned and are aware of the situation. The water table in Plachimada dropped from 40 feet to 125 feet, well and hand pumps went dry. While in Mehandi Ganj the water levels have dropped by 40 feet and the surrounding fields have been polluted. To prevent such situations from taking place in our Doon Valley we must take steps now by uniting to defend our water sovereignty, land sovereignty. The land allotted to the Coca-Cola plant in Charba was given to Doon University which has now been built elsewhere. This land has now been given to Coca-Cola without our consent by the government. This land should now be returned to the village. We do not agree to this land being handed over to Coca-Cola, we will not allow for this land grab and water theft to take place. This is our declaration on Mother Earth Day 2013 and we vow to take up the methods of Sri Sundarlal Bahuguna by adopting our own ‘chipko movement’ to save our trees, our land and our water.
Village Panchayat Charba, Vikasnagar, Doon Valley