Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) on Friday countered allegations made by Naam Tamizhar Katchi leader Seeman that the mercury from its thermometer factory in Kodaikanal had polluted the entire hill town.
In a statement responding to a >news report carried in The Hindu on Friday, which reported the speech of Mr. Seeman during the Thursday protest in Kodaikanal, the company said in 2001 and 2002, URS Dames and Moore carried out a comprehensive survey of sites including Pambar Shola Fall, Kodai lake and scrapyard site. The URS report deals with environmental assessment and risk assessment and it found no significant risks due to the mercury. This was confirmed by a NEERI report in 2007, it said.
The company said several independent studies had concluded the workers were not harmed by mercury. On Mr. Seeman stating that the ex-workers had been fighting for compensation for 14 years, HUL said they were offered jobs in another unit when the factory closed in 2001, but they chose to exit and were paid severance well above statutory dues, as a full and final settlement. In 2006, some of them went to court seeking compensation, a litigation which is still pending before the Madras High Court.
“HUL has continued to engage, as advised by the Court, on humanitarian grounds with the representatives of the workers to bring this issue to an amicable resolution,” the statement said.