PLACHIMADA, India, March 23 (UPI) -- Beverage giant Coca-Cola must pay $47 million for the environmental damage caused at a bottling plant in the southern Indian state of Kerala.
A committee in Kerala examining the practices of Coca-Cola found the company caused severe damage to farms and the local environment by dumping polluted wastewater sludge on area crops from 1999 through 2004.
"The committee has found the operation of the factory has caused excessive depletion of the groundwater resource," a copy of the report obtained by Indian newspaper The Hindu read. "We have also found that it has caused pollution of the ground water and it will take years to mitigate the pollution."
Coca-Cola closed the plant in 2005 because of protests by activists and residents. The environmental report found high levels of cadmium in the sludge caused declining crop yields, forcing substantial migration and steep unemployment in the area.
"Of the 916 workers who moved to other villages in search of work, 72 percent reported that they experienced severe unemployment in their own village since 2000," the report said. "In other words, migration was forced upon most of them."
Coca-Cola disputes the findings pending a court ruling.