Rapper protests against toxic waste

Chennai-born rapper Sofia Ashraf’s (above) protest song is set to Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda.
Chennai-born rapper Sofia Ashraf’s (above) protest song is set to Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda. PHOTO: YOUTUBE

MUMBAI • An Indian rapper's viral rap video calls on consumer products giant Unilever to clean alleged toxic waste from a forested southern hill station and compensate the residents.

Sofia Ashraf's video, posted online by a non-governmental organisation called Jhatkaa, or "shock" in Hindi, has received more than one 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 the claims of former workers who say that their health has been damaged by exposure to mercury.

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 from the factory.

A Hindustan Unilever spokesman said in an e-mail: "We have been rigorous in establishing the facts and several independent expert studies have concluded that there were no adverse impacts on the health of our people at Kodaikanal. We have also taken action to ensure the clean-up of soil within the factory premises. "

The video, set to the beat of Nicki Minaj's Anaconda and retweeted by the American rapper star herself, shows Ashraf asking Unilever to compensate the workers.

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


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 05, 2015, with the headline 'Rapper protests against toxic waste'. Print Edition | Subscribe