Nestle's crimes

In Brazil exposed by advocacy group

 
Published: Tuesday 15 March 2005

Multinational bottled water major Nestle has been accused of conducting illegal activities in Brazil in the past eight years. Among its unlawful practices are illegal drilling for water in Parque das guas (Park of Waters) in So Loureno, state of Minas Gerais; de-mineralising of water, an act forbidden by Brazilian law; and building illegal structures.

The Movimento dos Amigos do Circuito das guas Mineiro (Movement of Friends of the Minas Water Circuit or MACAM), a non-governmental organisation and advocacy group, exposed the irregularities recently. "The Parque das guas holds the largest diversity of mineral waters in the world. These waters have medicinal value and de-mineralising them compromises this potential," says Francisco Villela, a MACAM activist. Nestle drilled its first well at Parque das guas in 1996 without permission. It got the permission only after three years. But even this decision was challenged in the court. Nestle first lost the case but after a series of appeals and counter appeals, won permission to operate in the park till October 2004. Now, it continues its operation after more than three months of the permission's expiry.

Nestle began its bottling operations only a year after starting its drilling operations. Millions of litres of water were simply wasted during this one year. After bottling began, Nestle started removing minerals from the water but it never made clear where the huge amount of minerals were dumped. It has also not issued any environmental impact study about the possible effects of such dumping.

The company also built illegal structures while expanding its work in Brazil. It cut trees and destroyed a whole section of the Parque das guas, including an ancient fountain.

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