THOOTHUDI: Six months after 13 people were killed in protests against the Vedanta-owned Sterlite Copper factory, around 300 anti-Sterlite agitators thronged the Thoothukudi district of Tamil Nadu collector’s office premises condemning the expert committee report on Sterlite copper smelter plant issue.
People are demanding legislative backing to the state government’s promise to keep the refined copper producer permanently closed.
They came down heavily upon the Edappadi K. Palaniswami-led state administration for its ‘hidden agenda’ with the Sterlite administration and accused the government of deliberately issuing a ‘weak closure order’, according to which the company was sealed on May 28.
“It was a deliberate attempt of the state government to control the people’s wrath against the company,” said Russel Retinam of the CPI(M)-affiliated trade union, CITU.
Making the same accusation against the state government, anti-Sterlite activist Krishnamoorthy of the Anti-Sterlite Tamil Federation added, “had the Tamil Nadu government been honest in its intention to close down the copper smelter plant, it would have taken a policy decision. At least now, the Chief Minister should pass a cabinet resolution to instill hope in the minds of people.”
He added the ‘Anti-Sterlite Tamil Federation’ planned to stage a fast here on December 5 (Wednesday), two days before the next hearing of the case on December 7 at the principal bench of the National Green Tribunal, New Delhi.
The protestors led by NGO ‘Makkal Athikaram’ members, advocate Hariragavan, Makesh and Rajesh demanded that a new legislation be enacted by the Tamil Nadu Assembly for permanent closure of the copper smelter plant in this town.
The anti-Sterlite protestors also thronged the district collectorate with the same demand on Monday morning, but in three separate groups to uphold the identities of their respective organisations.
In view of the protest, police bandobast was beefed up in and around the district collector’s office. Around 500 additional policemen were deployed under the direct supervision of the Thoothukudi district SP, Murali Ramba. Two additional superintendents of police from Tirunelveli and Virudhunagar districts along with nine DSPs were deployed to monitor the situation. No private vehicle was allowed inside the Thoothukudi district collectorate and people in groups were also stopped at the entrance.
As per report published in deccanchronicle.com, People coming to meet the officials on the weekly grievance redress meeting too were frisked. Media persons too were not spared from the security check. Police were extra cautious so as to prevent a recurrence of the May 22 situation, according to a police officer.