Sterlite protests: Tamil Nadu Government says Tuticorin police were forced to open fire on protestors

About 20,000 people took out a procession towards the district collectorate and the copper plant with the intention of picketing them, demanding for its permanent closure, and resorted to violence.

Published: 22nd May 2018 08:27 PM  |   Last Updated: 22nd May 2018 08:27 PM   |  A+A-

Thoothukudi Sterlite protest, EPS, 22 May 2018

A section of protesters managed to sneak into collectorate. However, police resorted to lathi charge to drive them away, said sources.  (EPS)


CHENNAI: As violent anti-Sterlite protests in Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu led to the death of a man in police firing today, the state government assured that it will take action 'respecting' people's feelings on the plant and appealed to all for calm.

Police action, including baton charge and firing, which left one dead amid unconfirmed reports that the toll was far more, was done under "unavoidable circumstances", a government statement said.

About 20,000 people took out a procession towards the district collectorate and the copper plant with the intention of picketing them, demanding for its permanent closure, and resorted to violence, it said.

"The mob resorted to violence, set on fire police vehicles and those parked at the collectorate and pelted stones at the collector's office.

"To bring the violence under control, under unavoidable circumstances, police had to take action.

To maintain law and order additional police personnel have been sent to Tuticorin," the statement said.

It, however, did not explicitly mention what the police action was - firing or baton charge, as police allegedly resorted to both.

The government underlining its pro-people commitment in the Sterlite issue, assured them further legal action would be taken, "respecting" their feelings.

"The Tamil Nadu government requests the people to accept this (assurance) and maintain peace," it said.

Tracing the history of Sterlite Industries India Ltd, a Vedanta Group unit, it said the plant was in operation in Meelavitan in Tuticorin for the past 20 years.

Following a gas leak in March 2013 in the plant, the then chief minister, the late J Jayalalithaa, ordered its closure, following which the company moved the National Green Tribunal against the state government, it recalled.

With the tribunal overturning the Government Order, the state moved the Supreme Court against it, and the petition was now pending there, it added.

The government recalled the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) earlier this year rejecting Sterlite's application, seeking renewal of consent to operate the plant for non-fulfilment of green norms.

These included issues relating to disposal of copper waste and effluents, it said.

The company later moved an Appellate Authority against this and the next hearing is slated for June 6, it said, adding, the TNPCB counsel had strongly argued against operations in the plant.

The government said it was committed in respecting people's aspirations and was working in sync with that.


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