Panel Discussion on 16th May ’15: Unilever’s Toxic Legacy in Kodaikanal

Towards a Policy for Cleanup and Compensation of Places and People Affected by Pollution

When: 16 May, 2015. 4.30 p.m

Where: Kavikko Arangam, CIT Colony, 2nd Main Road, Mylapore, Chennai

What: Panel Discussion on clean-up of environment and rehabilitation of people affected by pollution.

– Dr. D.B. Boralkar
Member, Supreme Court Monitoring Committee on Hazardous Wastes;
Former Member, Secretary Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, Mumbai
– Dr. Usha Ramanathan
Legal Scholar, New Delhi
– Dr. Rakhal Gaitonde
Public Health Expert, Chennai
People from pollution-affected communities
Kodaikanal, Cuddalore, Kodungaiyur


On March 7, 2001, environmentalists and residents of Kodaikanal in Tamilnadu exposed Unilever’s illegal dump of toxic mercury wastes in the dense watershed forest and in a scrapyard in a thickly populated part of the picturesque hill station. The factory was shut down immediately. In the months that followed, it was revealed that several tons of mercury were discharged into the environment, and evidence began surfacing that workers and residents were completely in the dark about the dangerous effects of mercury.

Today, 14 years later, neither has environmental contamination been cleaned, nor have affected workers been rehabilitated. In place after place in Tamil Nadu and India, the same story is repeated – in Ranipet, Kodungaiyur, Mettur, Cuddalore, Manali, Thoothukudi. The Government enthusiastically clears the way for industries to set up, by convincing villagers and acquiring their lands. But when things go wrong and workers or residents are hurt by pollution, action to rehabilitate affected people or contaminated sites takes time or does not happen.

Kodaikanal is the site where a celebrity multinational – Unilever – that prides itself as a socially responsible corporate has left behind a deadly legacy of toxic mercury contamination.

Kodaikanal presents Tamil Nadu with an opportunity to lead the country in putting in place a policy for expeditious rehabilitation of sites and people affected by pollution.

Organised by:
Poovulagin Nanbargal, Indian Institute of Public Policy (IIPP), The Other Media (TOM)
c/o 92, 3rd Cross, Thiruvalluvar Nagar, Besant Nagar, Chennai 600 090
Tel: 9841031730 (Poovulagin Nanbargal); 9940247063 (IIPP); 9444082401 (TOM)