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Poisoned Workers of Hindustan Lever Demand Treatment

Representatives of workers of the Hindustan Lever Limited (HLL) in Kodaikanal, a popular hill station in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu , traveled all the way to Bombay in western India and addressed the media on Wednesday to urge the companys share-holders to raise to raise the issues of mercury contamination and long term medical remediation of the victims at the Annual General Meeting (AGM).

The HLL had closed down permanently its controversial thermometer plant at Kodaikanal six years ago in the wake of allegations by environmental activists that it was polluting the environment of the hill station.

But workers exposed to mercury poisoning when it was operational are struggling to cope with their shattered lives.

They have formed the Ponds Hindustan Lever Limited Ex-Mercury Employees Welfare Association and are preparing for a legal battle to press for compensation, rehabilitation and remediation of the mercury-poisoned environment.

Activists had come to know of mercury pollution came to know of the pollution by HLL when they discovered mercury wastes in a scrap yard in the busy Moonjikal market. The mercury scrap was weighed and found to be approximately 7.4 tonnes.

Eleven ex-workers exposed to toxic mercury (representing about 500 affected workers) highlighted at the Bombay newsconference the various health problems like neurological disorders, tremors, bleeding gums, heart disorders, renal malfunctions and high levels of abortions among women during their work at the thermometer factory. To highlight the intensity of the problem, 5 children born to the ex-workers were also present, these children suffer from various known mercury induced illnesses such as brain disorders, heart disorders and congenital deformities.

Appealing to the shareholders of HLL, the ex-workers said, Shareholders should not only be interested in the profits but also demand responsibility from
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