CHENNAI: Energised by legal victories, Vedanta Ltd’s Sterlite Copper applied afresh for renewal of Consent to Operate, on Thursday. CEO of the company P Ramnath confirmed to Express that a letter had been submitted to the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board seeking early renewal of permission. However, State pollution control board chairman Shambhu Kallolikar opined that the Supreme Court hadn’t “forced” the NGT order upon the State government.
Family members of six out of the 13 people gunned down by the police during the Thoothukudi protest spoke out for the first time and held Sterlite directly accountable for the killings. Addressing a press meet in Chennai, they alleged that police had restricted their movement and did not allow them to speak freely. They wanted the factory to be shut down permanently.
“We are holding this press conference in Chennai before there are unofficial prohibitory orders clamped in Thoothukudi,” said Stephen, whose 40-year-old brother K Glaston was shot in the chest during the protest on May 22. Autopsy report says Glaston was shot from a close range. “Glaston was innocent...just an onlooker,” claims Stephen.
State pollution control board chairman Shambhu Kallolikar opined that the Supreme Court hadn’t “forced” the NGT order upon State government. “TNPCB reserves the right to accept or reject Sterlite’s application, which will be based on merits. The NGT committee itself had admitted that Sterlite has committed 25 violations and its order has a long list of compliance norms to be fulfilled by the company. We will ask them to comply with all these norms before processing their permission,” he said.
State government provided `20 lakh compensation to families of all deceased. Parents of Shanmugam — who lose their 25-year-old only son — refused the compensation amount. A member in each of the 10 families were also given employment. Children of deceased Glaston and Antony Selvaraj are minors and will have to wait till they turn 18 to avail the job.
“My daughter was ambitious,” recalls mother of 17-year-old Snowlin. “She wanted to become a lawyer. We are yet to come to terms with her death.” Snowlin was the youngest among the victims. She was shot at the back of her head, according to the autopsy report. The bullet exited through her mouth.
S Maniraj had been married for just two months before his life was cut short. His wife was carrying their child when he died. “We want the killers (police) to be punished,” says his mother. Some families are not happy with the kind of employment being offered on compassionate grounds.
Kalliappan’s mother Maheshwari told Express that she was given work at a noon meal centre in Perur near Tirunelveli for a meagre salary of `4,000. Families of budding boxer B Ranjith Kumar, college student Karthik and 62-year-old Jayaraman were also present.