Activist-rapper Sofia Ashraf is back. And she's taking the story forward from her Kodaikonal Won't video, which went viral with its sassy way of questioning Hindustan Unilever's practices with mercury waste.
Now she explains "Why Kodaikanal Still Won't".
Also the maker of the DOW Vs Bhopal video, where she took down Dow for its inaction after the Bhopal gas tragedy, Ashraf hasn't gone down the rap road this time. It's more of a mock news update, inspired by the style of comedian-journalist-anchor John Oliver.
Just to bring people up to speed, here's Uruk – Ashraf's friendly neighbourhood neanderthal – doing the honours.
Mercury poisonous chemical. Mercury used in thermometer. Chesebrough-Ponds set up thermometer factory in Kodaikanal. Then HUL buy factory. Factory pollute. Mercury poison. Plant poison. Fish poison. Workers poison. Man find mercury in scrapyard. People make loud noise. Factory shut down. People ask company "clean up mess and pay workers". Company no agree. Sofia rap. People make a lot of noise. Company release a meticulously crafted, deluded piece of drivel in response that Tolkien might have been happy to have cooked up.
In the company statement following Ashraf's earlier rap video about Kodaikanal, Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, had claimed that HUL did not dump mercury in Kodaikanal, and had removed any risk of contamination to the ecologically sensitive region.
It is these claims that are at the core of Ashraf's video, which points out that reports by past HUL consultants have debunked the company's own claims. For instance, she says, URS Dames and Moore's 2002 report, commissioned by HUL, stated that 1.3 tonnes of mercury have been released into the nearby Pambar Shola forest reserve – that's mercury equivalent to the "weight of a fully grown bear dressed in Mallu wedding jewellery".