By Kanika Katyal:
Kodaikanal, often known as the ‘princess of hill stations’ is a scenic hill station located 7000 feet above the sea level in the high ranges of Palani Hills in Tamil Nadu.
Sometime around 1982, Hindustan Unilever Limited had set up a thermometer factory there. In the process of making mercury thermometers, the factory caused enormous mercury contamination and devastation in the area. The extent of the environmental abuse led to the closure of the factory in 2001.
Kodaikanal mercury poisoning has been a well-chronicled case of toxic pollution. High levels of toxic mercury are still found in vegetation and sediments in the surrounding area of the thermometer factory. According to reports, “Mercury has a tendency to accumulate in the body and the actual symptoms of the effects can develop even decades after the exposure.”
Even now, years after the shutdown, the struggle for justice of workers continues. Justice may have been delayed, but the fire in the people’s activism hasn’t died out.
Sofia Ashraf, a musical artist from Chennai, has composed a rap, a fierce battle cry, in support of the issue, urging Unilever to clean up their act. Because, “Kodaikanal won’t step down, till you make amends now!”