Kodaikanal’s struggle against its toxic legacy is a fight of ordinary people against giant corporations and all their machinations in a complex justice system. It is a fight to make corporations accountable for their conduct, about being responsible towards the environment and the health and lives of future generations. You can support this struggle too.
Glimpses of two decades of solidarity actions around the world
2013 – Have a heart; Clean-up Kodai, say children to Unilever and Govt. of Tamil Nadu
Marking 12 years of inaction by Hindustan Unilever and the Government of Tamil Nadu in cleaning up Unilever’s toxic mercury contaminated site in Kodaikanal, more than 20 children from the hill town visited Chennai to deliver hearts with messages to key Government officials urging them to clean up contamination to international standards. Read more
2008 – Global Day of Action
In response to the Global Day of Action against Unilever in 2008, solidarity actions were held in different places in India and outside including Australia (Melbourne) and Hong Kong, Messages demanding action were sent to Unilever from Belgium, Greece, Germany, UK and USA. In India, solidarity actions were held in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kodaikanal and Ghatigaon (near Gwalior). Of particular note is the candle-light vigil held in Ghatigaon by survivors of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy whilst they were on their march (on foot) to Delhi as part of their own campaign for justice. Read the full report of GDA 2008.
2007 – An exhibition of a thousand Bhopals
In April 2007, Community Environment Monitoring, Chennai organized a photo-exhibition of pollution impacted places in India” (with a special focus on Tamil Nadu) at Alliance Francaise of Madras.
“The photo exhibition primarily focuses on chemical pollution and its impact on human and environmental health and aims at raising awareness of the general public about the consumption of chemicals and its impact on the future generations and on people who share their backyards with facilities that make such chemicals. Though the exhibit displays images of Endosulphan poisoning in Kasargod, Kerala and chemical pollution from the Golden Corridor in Gujarat, the main focus is on Tamilnadu where places like Cuddalore, Mettur, Manali and Chengelpattu are severely impacted by industrial pollution.
“The Bhopal Gas Disaster of 1984 was not an accident. It was the result of systematic neglect by the Government and industry. Twenty-three years after this disaster, no lessons have been learnt. The environment, workers and communities living next to the industries face the same threats that caused the Bhopal Gas Disaster.
“The neglect that plagued Union Carbide’s factory in Bhopal, plagues several toxic hotspots in Mettur, Cuddalore, Kodungaiyur, Ennore, Manali, Tuticorin, Alathur, Kodaikanal and Tiruppur — all in Tamil Nadu. . .all slow-motion Bhopals.”
2005 – Remembering Bhopal and other Bhopals
On December 3rd, 2005, the 21st anniversary of the Bhopal disaster, “We Feel Responsible” and other Bhopal supporters in Chennai hosted a “Run For Life” and candle-light vigil in memory of Bhopal and the slow-motion Bhopals in their own community. Schools, friends and local residents were invited to participate in the event, which included the performance of a street play and ended with a poignant candle-light vigil at the Elliots Beach.
The run covered an area of about 5kms, snaking its way along the beach in Besant Nagar – a very popular coastal locality in city of Chennai and a weekend crowd puller. The theme revolved around the relevance of the Bhopal Gas Disaster to our lives today; the general need for a safe environment and greater corporate accountability in our corporate-ruled lives; and Chennai’s own slow-motion Bhopals, including Chemplast and Malco’s factory complexes in Mettur, the SIPCOT Industrial Estate in Cuddalore, the Ennore-Manali Petrochemical belt, Sterlite’s illegal copper smelter in Tuticorin, Orchid Chemical’s death factory in Alathur, the dyeing units in Tirupur, and Hindustan Lever’s mercury waste dumps in Kodaikanal. In all these cases the Government’s reluctance to crack-down on polluters is threatening workers, communities and the environment.
The first rally
The first rally demanding justice and action against the company’s action was held in …. These pictures tell you the story of a struggle that has gone on for nearly 2 decades.