Hul Ponds Thermometer Factory

Topics: Mercury, Mercury poisoning, Hazardous waste Pages: 8 (2376 words) Published: May 9, 2013

Hindustan Unilever –Stealing lives 2011

Sometimes, the good things that are meant for the mankind often end up to be the disaster of the same. Factories and companies that were set up in the guise to provide employment and economic stability of thousands of families are often in reality destroy the lives of several thousands and cause irrevocable damage to the lives of the dependant and the environment as a whole. Such evil companies often target the developing world because of the lack of monitoring facilities and the ignorance of the general population. Be it UNION CARBIDE factory of Bhopal, or HINDUSTAN UNILEVER factory in Kodaikanal. In spite of causing irrecoverable damage to both Human life and the environment, these two companies enjoy immunity from their wrong doings. It seems such companies enjoy diplomatic immunity from the rule of the land. When a person commits a crime, the law of the land prescribes punishment that is in quantum of the crime. Serial killers are often punished by death. What Happened in Kodaikanal and continues to happen is nothing less than a serial crime. How could anyone explain a factory that deliberately cheated its employees and the world about the dangerous effects of mercury flaunt all possible safety measures which resulted in the death and destruction of lives and families. When a large corporate is charged of a crime it can be often dismissed as deliberate attempt to defame the company. Hindustan Unilever is the largest consumer brand in India. One out of every three consumer product comes out of its factories. This however does not make HUL a clean company. Neither is this article a deliberate attempt of any sort to throw a negative light on the Consumer Giant. These pages are just to bring to light, the injustice caused to a group of ordinary citizens who only wanted to work hard for an honest living. And so did they work hard, for 18 years, 15 hours a day.

Young Men and women, in the prime of their lives, they produced over 165 million thermometers, which made Hindustan Unilever a very rich company. In return all they got back was irrecoverable health issues, dead family members, and children born with serious health defects, and deeper and deeper financial crisis due to mounting health bills, day in and day out. Some of their experiences are first hand, some told by their surviving family members, for the ex employees have lost over 30 of their comrades, most of them in their early 30s.

Man is a rational animal. All of us are blessed with the ability to reason, doubt, analyse and be the judge. The following pages, we take you through the history of the factory, the malpractice and the injustice, during the time of the factory and to date. We take you through the lives of some of the employees, and their families. Listen to their hearts, and be your own judge. HISTORY OF THE FACTORY In the 80 India’s effort to attract foreign investments paved way to the setting up of an ageing factory that had run its course in and was shut down in Watertown in USA. It was the same time when USA was tightening its environmental laws. With a new lease of life, the factory was shifted to India, where there were no environmental and safety laws in practice. The company was started in kodaikanal which enjoys the optimum temperature for handling mercury in its liquid form. The factory was 100 percent export oriented and was licensed to be a glass manufacturing unit. From the very beginning, the usage of a serious hazardous metal in the name of Methyl Mercury was camouflaged. Today kodaikanal is a bustling tourist center. Most locals depend on tourism as their main source of income. But in the 80’s when the factory was started. There was no tourism, the primary source of income was agriculture. Overnight the thermometer factory was the most attractive place to work.

Rajesh mani.

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