Madras HC’s order on Sterlite plant likely today as 9 protesters die in police firing
The Tamil Nadu government has ordered a judicial inquiry into the police firing in Tuticorin that killed nine people protesting against a new copper smelting plant by Sterlite Industries.india Updated: May 23, 2018 10:42 IST
The Madras high court’s Madurai bench will deliver an interim order on Wednesday on the ongoing construction of a new copper smelting plant by Sterlite Industries in Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukudi, where at least nine people were killed when police fired at violent protesters calling for its closure.
An agitation against the plant started 100 days ago and took a violent turn on Tuesday in Thoothukudi, which was formerly known as Tuticorin, after protesters learnt of a plan by Sterlite Copper, a subsidiary of metals and mining conglomerate Vedanta Resources, to double capacity at the smelter to 800,000 tonnes per year.
Protesters who blame the copper plant, one of India’s biggest, for health problems and depleting water allegedly set vehicles on fire and stoned policemen in the coastal city in southern Tamil Nadu.
The Tamil Nadu government ordered a judicial inquiry into the police firing on Tuesday. The inquiry will be conducted by a retired judge.
Chief minister K Palaniswamy expressed his condolences at the deaths and announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the kin of the deceased and a job for a suitable family member, Rs 3 lakh for those seriously injured and Rs 1 lakh each for the other injured.
Sterlite released a statement expressing sorrow and regret over the deaths that took place during the protests.
“It’s with great sorrow and regret that we witnessed today’s incidents around the protest today at Tuticorin. The company has appealed to government and authorities to ensure the safety of our employees, facilities and surrounding communities. Sterlite Copper plant is non-operational as we await approval for the consent to operate,” Sterlite said in a late night statement said.
The Sterlite Copper plant and its proposed expansion in Tuticorin have invited several protests by locals and others who allege that it was polluting groundwater in their area.
The company applied for the removal of consent to operate (CTO) for its existing smelter plant in March this year. The application was rejected after the state pollution control board found that the plant, which can produce 400,000 tonnes of copper a year, was not complying with environmental rules.
The Sterlite plant, which is more than 20 years old, was shut down for two months in 2013 by the then chief minister J Jayalalithaa after people complained of irritation in their eyes.