KARACHI: On the World Water Day, observed on Wednesday, Coca-Cola Pakistan, a multinational beverage company that allegedly poses threats to the groundwater by taking it as main source to make soft drinks has announced its 7 years association with WWF-Pakistan, a nature conservation organization.
Every year World Water Day is marked on 22 March and the theme for the current year is 'why waste water' which is about taking action to tackle the water crisis. It emphasizes the need to improve water quality, and treat and reuse wastewater. According to World Health Organization, there are over 663 million people living without a safe water supply close to home, spending countless hours queuing or trekking to distant sources, and coping with the health impacts of using contaminated water.
In a statement issued on Wednesday on the eve of World Water Day, the Coca Cola Pakistan claims that it has provided 800 million litres of freshwater back into the local communities in Pakistan, but despite several inquiries asked by Daily Times, the company has not disclosed that how many million litters are taking from groundwater that is used to fill the bottles of its beverages. However, Senior Manager, Media, Asiatic Public Relations, the official PR company of the Coca Cola Pakistan, in a written response admitted that "Yes, Coca-Cola uses ground water, however, it is in collaboration with WWF-Pakistan is running a Watershed Management Project at Ayubia National Park and also it is working with Mountain and Glacier Protection Organization (MGPO) and working towards the rehabilitation of water and sanitation facilities in the water-stressed region of Gilgit-Balitistan," said Khan.
An independent estimation suggests that Coca Cola Company takes huge amount of water to fill its beverages, as according to company's international formula, for every 3.75 litres of groundwater used by the Coca-Cola plant, it produces one litre of product, as the rest is wasted during the purification process of the groundwater.
On the other hand, World Wild Life for Nature-WWF Pakistan seems worried about the ground water and in a statement issued on World Water Day, Hammad Naqi Khan, Director General WWF- Pakistan said that 'In the context of global climate change, rapidly increasing population and urbanization across the developing world, water scarcity is being viewed as a yardstick against which these variables-potentially disastrous social, economic and environmental consequences-are being measured.' He also said that Pakistan is among the countries which could face 'severe food and water crises due to 'increased demand' for water resources by agriculture, and the industrial and domestic sectors. "Big metropolis in Pakistan are already facing acute shortages of clean drinking water that has resulted in the over-extraction of groundwater, depleting the aquifer" he said, adding that water related issues are a monumental disaster in the offing which need to be addressed on a war footing to better prepare the nation for all eventualities.
But on the same time, WWF Pakistan is providing green shelter, by associating itself with exploiters of natural resources like Coca-Cola Pakistan, as for past seven years, WWF-Pakistan is running project in collaboration with Coca-Cola Pakistan in Ayubia National Park, for which Coca Cola always express proud, saying that such prestigious international organization is endorsing their work.
However, WWF Pakistan denied that it is greenwashing the polluters. On Contact, Senior Officer WWF-Pakistan, Khan Shehram said in a written statement that, "WWF-Pakistan has stringent measures in place to scrutinize companies where they falter. However, our efforts include facilitating companies in addressing their unsustainable business practices, if any. WWF-Pakistan has taken a tougher stance to support companies in addressing their issues related to environmental degradation. This however does not indicate that we in anyway are lenient,"