The Indian unit of Coca-Cola has suspended operations in three of its plants in the country, citing low demand and absence of economic viability.

The plants are situated in the states of Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Meghalaya.

"These decisions are taken in keeping with plant capacity utilisation considerations, based on the market demands and projections," a spokesperson for Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages (HCCB), the company's bottling arm, said yesterday. "A plant's capacity also becomes viable or unviable, depending on the availability of raw materials."

The company's Rajasthan unit has been challenged by environmental activists over alleged depletion of local groundwater levels. However, refuting this, HCCB stated that the plant  is a "minuscule user" of water from the local aquifer, tapping much less than 1% of the area's available water.

"While we have currently suspended manufacturing, we are continuing with all other operations and also retain the licence to produce at this plant," the spokesperson added. "Should there be a change in demand and volume, we may utilise this latent capacity."

HCCB has 54 plants in India, 25 of which are company-owned.