TUTICORIN: Tamil actor and Makkal Neethi Mayyam chief Kamal Haasan today expressed solidarity with the protest against Vedanta's copper making unit Sterlite near Tuticorin, and sought its closure.
"The expansion (of Sterlite Copper, a unit of Vedanta) should not at all be allowed...if possible it will be good to close down this (existing) unit," he told reporters in Tuticorin.
Staunchly opposing the copper smelter plant's proposed expansion, he said lives of people were more important than producing copper.
The Makkal Neethi Maiyam chief asked "what is the necessity to put up the plant near residential and agricultural zone? ...to say that the location is close to the port is not acceptable."
He said he would reverberate the voice of the people against the plant wherever he went.
To a question, he said legal experts would also be consulted to see if there was any possibility for legal intervention in the issue.
Asked if his party had planned any protest over the Cauvery issue, Haasan said a meeting has been convened on April 4 at Tiruchirappalli to deliberate the matter.
Earlier, he visited A Kumarareddiapuram village in Tuticorn district and expressed solidarity with the people for their protest which entered the 49th day today.
Residents of the village have been demanding that the plant be shut down immediately alleging that they faced serious health issues due to pollution from the unit.
Haasan, addressing the protesters said he visited them as an individual and not as a party head.
"My humble view is that a business need not be run by ruining your lives," he said.
He said for him being humane was more important than being an actor.
"I am a Tamilian first. I have not come here as a politician. I have not come here for publicity. I have had enough publicity already," he said.
Haasan, apparently pointing to allegations of health issues due to the copper unit, said "the injustice that is being perpetrated on you is a reflection of the ugly face of commercial greed."
He said the central and state governments had not heard the voice of the people and that "the people should make them hear the same now".
Sterlite Copper's unit was shutdown on March 29 for 15 days for "maintenance work." The firm has since placed advertisements in dailies claiming that it has not violated any norms against the background of continuing protests.
Meanwhile, a protest demonstration was held in Chennai today by people of Tuticorin district.
Several men painted their faces showing 'blood' oozing out from their eyes to symbolically represent the alleged sufferings of the Tuticorin people due to pollution from the copper unit. They shouted slogans against the unit and held placards seeking government action to close it down.
Yesterday, the Tamil Nadu government had said that it was examining complaints of residents against the copper maker.
A leading copper producer, Sterlite Copper represents the copper unit of Vedanta Limited which operates a 400,000 Tonnes Per Annum plant in Tuticorin.
The company had recently said that the plant received the necessary regulatory clearances for expansion and its primary commitment was to ensure the development and well-being of all the communities around its operations.
Actor Rajinikanth yesterday took a dig apparently at the ruling AIADMK over the issue of the expansion of the copper plant, saying the government was not responding to the protests by locals.