Published: Tue, May 29, 2018
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

Tamil Nadu Orders Permanent Closure Of Sterlite Copper Plant In Thoothukudi

Tamil Nadu Orders Permanent Closure Of Sterlite Copper Plant In Thoothukudi

Residents of the port city of Thootukudi, located at the tip of the Indian subcontinent, and environmentalists have been demonstrating for more than three months against the copper plant, one of India's biggest, alleging that it is a major source of pollution and a risk to fisheries.

Ten people were shot dead and about 80 wounded by police after crowds set fire to cars and pelted officers with stones on Tuesday.

The Government Order (GO) said it endorsed the recent closure direction of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, and also asked the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to "seal the unit and close the plant permanently".

A court on Wednesday put a temporary halt to Vedanta's much-delayed plan to almost double capacity at the Thoothukudi plant, which would make it one of the biggest copper smelters in the world. The protests had entered their hundredth day on the day of the firing.

In a highly unfortunate incident, ten people were killed in "police action" against anti-Sterlite protesters in Tuticorin of Tamil Naidu.

He said police had been forced to act "since protesters disregarded a curfew, acted against the advice of police", and indulged in violence.

Following widespread condemnation of the killings, the state chief minister has ordered an inquiry and announced compensation of 10 lakh rupees (US$14,600) to each of the families of those who died.

The PIL said the company obtained environmental clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests for the second copper smelter plant in 2009. Both actors-turned -politicians Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth credited the protestors and those who sacrificed their lives for the success of the movement.

Vedanta Resources' stock was down about 12% at 1755 IST on the London Stock Exchange.

In 2015, as a backbench MP, he tabled an Early Day Motion (a means for MPs to draw attention to issues) in Parliament, expressing "grave concern" over the death of over 40 workers in the collapse of a chimney in 2009, and deploring the steps the company took to "suppress" publication of a judicial report on the issue.

The head of the national opposition Congress party, Rahul Gandhi, condemned the use of lethal force, calling it "a brutal example of state-sponsored terrorism". The company moved the Appellate Authority against this, and the next hearing is on June 6. 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.

Several cases have been filed against the plant since it started in 1996, and India's top court in 2013 fined it about $18 million for breaking environmental laws.

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