A settlement with former factory employees looks unlikely to satisfy campaigners seeking justice over mercury pollution at Kodaikanal

Indian activists have welcomed Unilever’s settlement with former workers at a thermometer factory in India after a 15-year campaign and vowed to step up pressure on the multinational to clean up mercury pollution around the ecologically sensitive site.

In March the company’s Indian subsidiary, Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL), agreed to pay 591 former employees at the Kodaikanal factory an undisclosed sum following an international outcry over health problems and premature deaths they claim were linked to mercury leakage from the plant.

A 2011 Indian government report concluded that factory workers had been exposed to mercury and many showed the effects of mercury poisoning.

Rachita Taneja, from Jhatkaa.org, which helped coordinate the social media campaign for compensation for the former workers, said: “People power works. That’s the key lesson we’re drawing

“We’ll continue to lift up the hundreds of thousands of voices who have joined this campaign since last July to ensure that Unilever now cleans up its mercury mess in Kodaikanal.”

The campaign was galvanised by the viral music video Kodaikanal Won’t, by Chennai-born rapper Sofia Ashraf, and more than 150,000 people petitioned and tweeted to...

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