Cops open fire on protest against Vedanta’s Sterlite Plant in Tuticorin: 5 killed, more than dozen injured
The protest demanding closure of Vedanta’s Sterlite Copper unit in Tuticorin (Tamilnadu) took a violent turn today with cops opening fire on the protesters, killing 5 and injuring more than a dozen. The entire area had been cordoned off earlier and section 144 imposed as per the directive of the Madras High Court.
The deceased who have been identified till now are- Tamilarasan, Vinitha, Shanmugam and Gladston. Fisheries minister D Jayakumar has shamelessly defended the police action and said that ‘this was necessary since the protesters had turned violent’. He didn’t bother to look into the conditions that forced the protesters to turn violent.
The protests which have been continuing for now is against the forcible expansion of the plant and also its closure, since the plant is contaminating the ground water in the entire area. Sterlite Plant in Tuticorin is owned by Vedanta Corporation and it operates at 400,000 tonnes per annum capacity. Vedanta is a known violator of the rights of the local inhabitants in its mining operations and its operations in Niyamgiri of Orissa has seen sustained and militant protests by the locals against the forcible land acquisition. Now, we are seeing similar story being reported in Tuticorin as well, where the environmental costs and the livelihood concerns is being ignored just for profit maximization of the Vedanta. Villagers of Kumareddiapuram (near the plant) have been protesting for nearly two decades against the gas leaks from the plant and the contamination of ground water. Vedanta has been continuously ignoring these concerns. The militant protests in the last few months had forced the state government to grant the fresh consent to operate (CoT). Now, today’s police action clearly shows the priority of the Tamilnadu government.
The opposition parties have come heavily against the police action. K. Balakrishnan, the state secretary of Tamilnadu state committee of CPI (M) has demanded immediate resignation of the chief minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami. DMK leader M.K. Stalin has condemned the police action and has said that the police should have engaged the protesters instead of opening fire.