Whole story behind Tuticorin’s Sterlite violence: 9 dead as protest turned violent

The monthly old silent protest in Tamil Nadu against the Sterlite Copper unit in Tuticorin which turned violent on Tuesday as police opened fire on protestor leaving nine dead and several injured.

Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu E Palaniswami said that the protestor took a violent step by throwing stones at the police and setting their vehicles on fire. However, CM announced a judicial inquiry of the violent protest.

The Sterlite plant owned by the London-based Vedanta group and named as Vedanta’s Sterlite Copper Unit have the capacity to produce 4,00,000 tonnes of copper cathode a year. It has been shut down in March 27 for the 15-day maintenance work and to double up the capacity to 8,00,000 tonnes per year.

However, the Tamil Nadu Control Board has rejected the plea of the plant to reopen it in April as the company had not followed the environmental laws by dumping copper slag in a river and contaminating ground water near the plant. Sterlite has challenged the step by the board as a result of which next hearing was adjourned to June 6.

The Tuesday protest on the roads was not sprouted immediately at once but was prevailing for the last 100 days and it turns violent when the protestor was taking out the march to the Tuticorin District Collectorate demanding for the quick action against the plant.

The CEO of Sterlite Copper is adhered by saying that the plant is following the condition imposed by NEERI and the Supreme Court. They even open their gates to let the people see by themselves whether the plant is involved in pollution activities or not, but the protestor rejected the offer by claiming that the factory is causing the pollution outside their plant instead of managing it within the doors.

The Tuticorin Stevedores’ Association and the TSA President T Velsankar were among the person who were not in the favour of the closure of the plant as the step would affect thousands of livelihoods worker including drivers, workers or freight operators. It would also take away the employment of small factories who are dependent on the Sterlite Copper plant for their business.

The copper plant is the largest private company who holds about 38 lakh matric tonnes of cargo and occupies about 35% in the India’s primary copper market. The demand for the copper has been consistently increase over 7 to 8 per cent per year and without the commission of the new plant, India will soon turned as the net importer by the March 2020.


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