Hindustan Unilever (HUL) has responded to the rap video 'Kodaikanal Won't', written and performed by Chennai-based rapper Sofia Ashraf, highlighting the company's mercury contamination in Kodaikanal.
The video, which has sparked off conversations on social media, has been created by public mobilisation group Jhatkaa.org, ex-mercury workers association and the Chennai Solidarity Group, questioning Unilever's CEO Paul Polman's silence on the toxic dumping by the company.
"We closed down the factory and launched an investigation into this matter after it arose in 2001. While extensive studies on the health of our former workers and the Kodaikanal environment have not found any evidence of harm, we continue to take this issue very seriously, and it's one we are keen to see resolved. We have been working hard to find a fair and mutually satisfactory resolution at the suggestion of the Madras High Court and have had more than ten meetings with our former employees' representatives since 2014," the post reads.
The company has listed various studies that have been conducted since the factory's closure which concluded that its former employees did not suffer ill-health due to the nature of their work.
HUL informs that in 2000/2001, it removed 7.4 tonnes of mercury-bearing glass scrap from the site and installed five silt traps to prevent any discharge of soil from the factory into the Pambar valley - the only direction from which water flows out of the site.
It also added that pre-remediation work was started in 2009, but the criterion set by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) was contested by NGOs, which has delayed these efforts.
Read the full statement here.