Monday, 16 July, 2018

Protest against Sterlite plant turns violent: police, demonstrators clash in TN

Protest against Sterlite plant turns violent: police, demonstrators clash in TN Protest against Sterlite plant turns violent: police, demonstrators clash in TN
Theresa Hayes | 22 May, 2018, 21:11

In retaliation, angry protestors set Thoothukudi Collector office premises and the quarters of Sterlite employees on fire.

At least nine were killed on Tuesday after police fired at protesters calling for the closure of a Vedanta Resources-controlled copper smelter in southern India, a senior police official told Reuters.

Sterlite Copper, the company at the centre of the controversy, now operates a 400,000-tonne per annum unit in the city.

The district administration imposed Section 144 of the Indian Penal Code on Monday, and more than 2,000 police personnel were moved in from neighbouring districts.

Meanwhile, a state minister said though the government appreciated the sentiments of the protesters, police firing had become "unavoidable". "The Tamil Nadu govt is responsible for the violence and the loss of lives".

Since the protesters were prevented from marching towards the plant, they were seen pelting stones and toppling police vehicles.

Vedanta says the protests are based on "false allegations" and that it plans to double capacity at the smelter to 800,000 tonnes per year. As police could not control the crowd, they resorted to a few actions, it said.

Watch this space for more updates
Watch this space for more updates

The assembly of more than five persons has been banned in and around the Sterlite unit to provide security to it, in line with the orders of the Madras High Court.

With respect to the violence, he said the situation was "under control".

Anti-Sterlite protesters set ablaze two-wheelers parked on the roadside on the Thoothukudi Palayamkottai bypass on May 22, 2018. The protest got much need attention when the Thoothukudi town remained shut for a day on March 24 and ended with a public rally which attracted thousands of people. Residents have been agitating against the copper plants of the company, alleging that the pollution emitted by these plants was causing severe health issues, including cancer, among the people residing in the area.

Social activists have also joined the protests against the company. "I condemn the actions of the police", said DMK working President MK Stalin.

The Tamil Nadu government also issued a statement in which stated that Sterlite plant was functioning in the state for over 20 years and in 2013 the then Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa had ordered the closure of factory after people complained of irritation in their eyes after emissions from the project. Government jobs for the family members of the deceasedhas also been announced. "If possible it will be good to close down the (existing) unit", PTI Quoted Kamal Haasan as saying.

The minister said the government had not given the licence for expansion of the plant. Last month, the state pollution control board had shot down a request to renew permission for operating the plant.