Indian rapper goes viral with toxic waste gibes at Unilever

Hindustan Unilever, the Indian subsidiary of the consumer goods company, has denied wrongdoing.
Hindustan Unilever, the Indian subsidiary of the consumer goods company, has denied wrongdoing.PHOTO: REUTERS

MUMBAI (REUTERS) - An Indian rapper has gone viral with a music video calling on consumer products giant Unilever to clean up alleged toxic waste from a forested southern hill station and compensate residents.

Sofia Ashraf's video, posted online by a nongovernmental organisation called Jhatkaa, or "shock" in Hindi, has had more than a million views on YouTube, drawing attention to accusations against a thermometer factory in the town of Kodaikanal that closed down 14 years ago.

Hindustan Unilever, the Indian subsidiary of the consumer goods company, has denied wrongdoing. It disputes claims of former workers who say their health has been damaged by exposure to mercury.

"There was no adverse impact on the health of employees or the environment," the company said in a statement on its website. (http://bit.ly/1eMTHej)

The company said it shut down the factory in 2001 when environmental activists including Greenpeace "brought to Hindustan Unilever's attention the fact that glass scrap containing mercury had been sold to a scrap dealer about 3km away from the factory".

The company did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the video.

Set to the beat of Nicki Minaj's "Anaconda", and retweeted by Minaj herself, Ashraf asks Unilever to compensate workers. (http://bit.ly/1fNuNMx)

"Kodaikanal won't step down, until you make amends now," she raps.