It is a tough chapter to digest for the Thoothukudi people in Tamil Nadu when as many as 12 protesters were killed in police firing and more than 70 people were badly injured in the last two days. People protested against the expansion of Sterlite Copper’s Industrial unit Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu and when things got heated up, there was a massive clash between police and protesters, resulting in the death of the protesters including women and children.
The giant Sterlite Copper plant, London-based Vedanta company aims to produce 400,000 tonnes of the copper cathode per year. The plant ceased production since March 27 as maintenance work was undergoing in an attempt to intensify the capacity of production from 400,000 tonnes to 800,000 tonnes per year.
‘#bansterlite’ has been trending for many days in social media and the protests entered the 100th day on Tuesday. It was sad to see people’s protests ending in violence. South Indian actors such as Vishal, Vijay Sethupathi condemned Government’s inaction in this case. They conveyed deepest condolences about the death of protesters.
Usually, people don’t encourage factories that pollute the environment. Protesters were completely against the Plant’s capacity increase as it pollutes the groundwater including issues relating to disposal of copper waste and effluents from the operational unit which is the major concern for the people in Tuticorin. The residents never gave up as they have been demanding the permanent closure of the smelter for the past 100 days.
The residents stressed the fact that there is no problem inside the Copper plant but outside as it contaminates the groundwater announced that they would walk in large numbers to the Tuticorin DM officer on Tuesday. According to the company CEO P Ramnath, the Sterlite Copper plant isn’t polluting the groundwater as it follows all the rules and regulations to run a plant set by NEERI and the Supreme Court. He has also requested the residents to look inside the plant for themselves that plant doesn’t contaminate the groundwater.
In a recent update, the electricity supply to the Sterlite Copper Smelter plant was cut off on Thursday morning. It is learnt that the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) has taken a decision to shut down Sterlite Copper Smelter plant in Thoothukudi with immediate effect. TNPCB chairman issued the orders to shut down the plant on Wednesday and the power supply unit was cut off at 5.15 am Thursday, as per the sources.
In its strict orders, the TNPCB said that during inspections undertaken by its officials on the dates May 18 and 19, they came to know that, “the unit was carrying out activities to resume its production operations.” Under the Section 33A of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, and Section 31A of Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1971, the TNPCB ordered the closure and disconnection of electricity supply under provisions.