While activists in India have criticised beverage companies for excessive ground water usage, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo insist that the beverage industry is not one of the largest users of water.
Representatives of the two companies said they were trying to reduce water usage and even replenishing it.
They were speaking at a panel discussion here Wednesday on 'India's Growing Water Crisis: Challenges and Options', organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Earth Institute at Columbia University as part of the Incredible India@60 celebrations.
The future water scenario for India is grim. Per capita water availability has slid from 5,000 cubic metres a year in 1950 to less than 2,000 cubic metres currently. Irrigation and industry are straining India's surface and ground water resources. The UN estimates that two-thirds of the world's population will not have enough water by 2025 if current trends are not reversed.
The ways suggested by the panel to improve water management in India included water recharge, conservation, finding renewable resources and engaging local communities to garner their support.