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Protest against Hindustan Lever's decontamination policy

New Kerala
06 March 2006

Chennai: Demonstrations by more than 300 ex-workers of Hindustan Lever Ltd. (HLL) Monday in the holiday resort of Kodaikanal marked the fifth anniversary of their struggle for environmental clean-up and health rehabilitation against the multinational.

The former workers demonstrated before the district authorities and pointed out that a recently-approved proposal allowed Hindustan Lever to 'decontaminate' its machinery once again.

Mercury pollution affected hundreds of workers at the HLL mercury thermometer factory at Kodaikanal in Dindigul district, about 600 km south of here and protesting workers and environmental activists forced the plant to shut down in 2001.

The protestors, including victims of mercury poisoning and their families and activists, said the permission to decontaminate polluted machinery at the plant "goes against established practice and exposes workers to harmful ways".

The plan, approved by the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee, envisages in using detectors to detect harmful levels of mercury.

""These detectors are not sufficiently advanced and accurate"", the protestors said.

The former HLL employees had on March 7, 2001 exposed that HLL had dumped more than seven tonnes of mercury waste in a scrap yard in the resort town, and in the forests behind the factory. The factory was closed that year.

The protestors said many workers and their families are suffering from a variety of ailments caused by the mercury exposure.

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