Sterlite plant protests leave 9 dead

Madras HC Stays Construction Of Sterlite Copper Plant Day After 12 Protesters Die In Police Firing

Madras HC Stays Construction Of Sterlite Copper Plant Day After 12 Protesters Die In Police Firing

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E Palaniswami appealed to the people to maintain peace and ordered a probe into the violence and police firing.

Palaniswami said he has ordered constitution of a one-man commission under a retired high court judge to go into the incident, in which over 60 people were injured.

The interim order by the high court came after Tuesday's violence in which at least 11 people, including a girl, were killed and several others injured after police opened fire at protesters demanding the closure of Vedanta's Sterlite Copper unit in the coastal city. But the protests to demand closure of the plant intensified this year after reports that the group wanted to double capacity as the initial 25 year licence was coming to an end.

But environmental activists point out that the plant, controlled by London-headquartered Vedanta Resources, had been temporarily shut in the past too for violations.

Some five years ago, hundreds of people were hospitalized after they complained of breathlessness and nausea following a gas leak from the plant. In a brief statement issued to the media, the group said, "It is with great sorrow and regret that we witnessed today's incidents around the protest at Tuticorin". On Tuesday, the protests flared with police telling PTI that 5000 people had gathered close to a local church and took out a rally to the district collectorate after they were denied permission to march to the copper smelter plant.

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However, they stress that most of the Big Island and the rest of the state remains largely unaffected by the latest events. Evacuation orders for two neighbourhoods with almost 2,000 people were given after the first fissure opened on May 3.

There is no clarity on why the protest turned violent this time.

Nine people were killed in police firing after protests against the closure of Vedanta group's Sterlite Copper plant over pollution concerns turned violent in Tuticorin, with the police action drawing opposition criticism. Dravida Munnetra Kazahagam working president and Leader of Opposition, M K Stalin, slammed the "inhumane" firing on protestors.

"The Sterlite Copper plant is now non-operational as we await approval for the consent to operate", it said. Citizens are not criminals.

P Ramnath, chief executive of Vedanta Ltd's copper business told Reuters that his company "would like to restart the plant as soon as possible, in a peaceful manner".

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