Indian rapper channels her inner Nicki Minaj to call out multinational corporation

Evan Bartlett@ev_bartlett
Sunday 02 August 2015 17:20
Showbiz

Indian rapper Sofia Ashraf has released a new song in which she accuses Unilever of failing to compensate former workers who claim their health has been adversely-affected by mercury contamination.

Put to the beat of Nicki Minaj's Anaconda, "Kodaikanal Won't" recalls the story of a thermometer plant which closed in the southern state of Tamil Nadu in 2001.

Former employees attribute 45 deaths to mercury poisoning from the plant and nearly 20,000 people have signed a petition launched by social justice NGO Jhatkaa, which also posted Ashraf's rap on its YouTube channel, calling on Unilever to "take responsibility".

Ashraf, who also called for corporate responsibility for the Bhopal disaster in a previous rap, warns Unilever that the workers of "Kodaikanal won't stop until you make amends now".

Unilever acknowledges that the plant was closed immediately after 5.3 metric tonnes of scrap glass containing mercury was sold to a local dealer "in breach of our guidelines", but disputes claims that it dumped glass behind its factory or that there were any adverse effects on "the health of employees or the environment".

It also dismissed a recent report by Community Environmental Monitoring - a Chennai-based NGO - which claimed to have found "high levels of toxic mercury in vegetation and sediment collected in the vicinity" of the Kodaikanal factory.

A statement on the Unilever Hindustan website reads: "The conclusions of the CEM report is in contrast to the results and conclusions of several site assessment and risk assessment studies that have been done by independent experts and institutes over the years and we stand by the reports of the past.

"We continue to engage with all stakeholders including the statutory authorities and ex workmen for resolution of the matter."

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