Tamil Nadu, May 28: Tamil Nadu government on Monday issued orders to permanent shutdown Vedanta Group-run company, Sterlite Copper plant in Thoothukudi, following the death of 13 people in police firing during anti-Sterlite protests in the city. Chief Minister E Palaniswami said that the demand of the people of Thoothukudi to the government for closure of the plant has been accepted by the government and orders have been issued to this effect. Also Read - Over 1 Lakh Evacuated in TN as Cyclone Nivar Makes Landfall, Heavy Rain to Continue Till Thursday | Key Points
The Government Order said it has been brought to the notice of the government that Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) did not renew the ‘Consent to Operate’ to the copper smelter plant in Thoothukudi by its order of April 9 this year and subsequently on May 23, the PCB has also issued directions for closure and disconnection of power supply. Also Read - ‘Stop Imposing Hindi’: People in Tamil Nadu Upset After IMD Tweets Cyclone Nivar Updates in Hindi
“Under Sections 18(1)(B) of the Water Act, 1974 in the larger public interest, the Government endorse the closure direction of the TNPCB and also direct the TNPCB to seal the unit and close the plant permanently,” said the Order. Also Read - Cyclone Nivar: Tamil Nadu Government Announces Public Holiday In 13 Districts on November 26
Welcoming the order, protesters said they needed a Cabinet decision on this as otherwise the company would approach courts and get a stay. They also wanted the Central government to take a similar stand.
Earlier in the day, Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam had visited Thoothukudi, the first senior political representative to go to the violence-hit town, and announced that the government will take necessary steps to permanently shut down the copper smelter plant. Pannerselvam visited the hospital and enquired about the health of those injured in the police firing on anti-Sterlite Copper protesters on May 22, in which 13 persons died. Speaking to reporters, the Deputy Chief Minister said that compensation to the injured was being paid.
On May 22, anti-Sterlite protests took an ugly turn when the protesters were barred from being seeing anywhere near the Sterlite Copper unit. The protesters also pelted stones torched some vehicles at the Collector’s residence.
A video clip of a policeman in civilian clothes taking aim with an assault rifle also did the rounds. Reportedly, the clip also carried voices telling the man to ensure that at least one protester was brought down.
Notably, people in Toothukudi have been demanding the closure of Sterlite copper smelting plant alleging that it was polluting the area, and leading to severe health problems among the residents of the locality, besides depleting the water table. Social activists have also joined the protests against the company. Internet facility in the city had to be suspended; it was restored yesterday i.e. May 27.
Earlier, the Madras High Court had put a stay order on the construction of Vedanta Ltd’s Copper Smelter Plant 2 at Tuticorin, some 650 km from Chennai. The Madurai bench of the High Court gave this direction on a PIL against the expansion of the company’s plant. The court had also issued a notice to the CBI on a PIL seeking a probe by the agency into the police firing in Tuticorin in which 13 people lost their lives. Reportedly, both Thoothukudi SP and collector was transferred after the incident.