Anti-Sterlite protests: Thoothkudis SP, Collector transferred

29 May, 2018, 00:41 | Author: Genevieve Gibbs
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Sterlite Copper, a business unit of Vedanta, a United Kingdom-based multinational mining and metals conglomerate, set up the copper smelting plant in 1996.

"We have taken a decision to permanently shut down the plant and today issued government orders to do the same", Edappadi K Palaniswami, chief minister of the southern state of Tamil Nadu said in a statement after meeting officials, including from the pollution department.

Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board disconnected the power supply to the Sterlite Copper Smelter plant in Thoothukudi on Thursday even as the death toll in Tuesday's police firing climbed to 12.

Hundreds were injured while demanding the closure of the sterlite copper smelter plant.

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Paramilitary forces are likely to be deployed after two days of clashes between police and local people.

In a highly unfortunate incident, ten people were killed in "police action" against anti-Sterlite protesters in Tuticorin of Tamil Naidu. Another man, identified by Indian media as a 23-year-old named Kaliappan, was killed in further protests on Wednesday. The deputy CM spoke to reporters in Thoothukudi and said that compensation to the injured were being paid.

The protests intensified after Vedanta, owned by an Indian billionaire but with its head office in London, sought to double the 400,000-tonne annual capacity of the plant.

A protest against the Industrial giant was planned for Saturday afternoon, by the Foil Vedanta (a grassroots activist group centred in London but linking into domestic campaign groups) and Tamil People in the United Kingdom (a group representing several thousand members across Britain).

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Rahul Gandhi, leader of the main opposition Congress party, has described the deaths as "a brutal example of state-sponsored terrorism".

State Minister D. Jayakumar said in a televised address that it had been "unavoidable" for police to fire on protesters. "Normalcy is returning. But till the copper smelter plant is permanently closed there will not be total peace in the city", S. Raja of Thoothukudi Traders Association told IANS.

The plant, about 375 miles (600km) south of Tamil Nadu's state capital Chennai, is now shut as the company awaits a licence to expand the site. "The company is working with the relevant authorities to ensure the safety of our employees, facilities and the surrounding community", she said. The protesters in thousands, demanding closure of the plant, said the pollution by the unit was leading to severe health problems for the local residents and depletion of the water table.

In 2013, the Supreme Court took cognisance of the pollution from the existing plant and fined the company Rs 100 crore for the environmental damage it had caused between 1997 and 2012.

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