13 September, 2015. CHENNAI
Actors Bobby Simha, Rohini, and Kalairaani joined Rathindran Prasad — the maker of ‘Kodaikanal Won’t’ viral video — to launch the #WontBuyUnilever campaign today by giving missed calls to 08880109020. The celebrities urged people to take action by avoiding Unilever brands such as Lifebuoy, Dove, Lipton tea, Pond’s, Lakme, Hamam, Axe Deo etc, and registering their action on jhatkaa.org/WontBuyUnilever.
The ‘Kodaikanal Won’t’ video that went viral on social media in July 2015 brought Kodaikanal’s battle against Unilever to the limelight. An online petition on jhatkaa.org/unilever has garnered nearly 90,000 supporters. Despite this, Unilever continues its double standards by pushing a cleanup standard of 25 mg of mercury per kg of soil (mg/kg) which is 250 times weaker than levels that would protect the forests and water of Kodaikanal. If the site were to be cleaned up to the diluted standard now proposed then Unilever would be leaving behind more than a third of the residual mercury onsite even after the cleanup.
Residents fear that the residual mercury will leak into the environment and hurt water and fish consumers from Kodaikanal’s lakes and the River Vaigai. A June 2015 study confirms that Unilever’s contaminated site is leaking mercury into its surroundings, including into the ecologically sensitive Pambar Shola and the Pambar River. Mercury builds up to dangerous levels in the aquatic food chain and can harm fish consumers. Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that can damage the kidneys, brain and cause birth defects.
Esther Rani, whose son worked in HUL’s Kodaikanal factory and subsequently passed away due to kidney failure, wonders if mercury was the cause of her son’s demise. Esther’s story can be viewed and shared here
Over 45 workers who were exposed to mercury during their employment have died prematurely and 25 children of workers are seriously ill. Activists and residents of Kodaikanal do not want Kodaikanal to become a victim of Unilever’s environmental racism, and have demanded stringent standards for clean up.
Consumers participating in the #WontBuyUnilever campaign are urged to give a missed call to 08880109020 or register their pledge against Unilever by visiting jhatkaa.org/WontBuyUnilever. A complete list of Unilever products is available at: http://tinyurl.com/p7vh9ea
For more information, visit: kodaimercury.org
Nityanand Jayaraman, Chennai Solidarity Group – 9444082401
G. Sundarrajan, Poovulgain Nanbargal – 9841031730
Rachita Taneja, Jhatkaa.org – 07760052603