Protests against Vedanta copper smelter in Tuticorin turn violent

Vedanta Sterlite Tamil Nadu Violence: 9 Dead As Police Fire During ...

Vedanta Sterlite Tamil Nadu Violence: 9 Dead As Police Fire During ...

They started hurling stones at the police and also overturned a vehicle after which the police lobbed teargas shells to disperse them, they said.

"Entering the collector's office and (perpetrating) violence is not acceptable".

This mass protest on May 22 was organised beforehand and several hundreds of protesters rallied to the collectorate campus. "Since the protestors indulged in violence, the police had to resort to firing to bring the situation under control".

Opposition parties, some of whom have been supporting the protesters, condemned the police action and demanded the resignation of Chief Minister E Palanisamy of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK).

"The police had to take action under unavoidable circumstances to protect public life and property", said K. Palaniswami, the top official in Tamil Nadu state.

Protesters set vehicles on fire and threw stones at police, prompting the police to open fire.

Vedanta Sterlite Tamil Nadu Violence: 9 Dead As Police Fire During ...
Anti-Sterlite protests in Tuticorin: Why people want Vedanta plant closed

People in Toothukudi are 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.

Despite Thoothukudi district collector clamped prohibitory orders under section 144 in view of the protest called by the villagers, the protestors who gathered in large numbers took out a massive rally violating the prohibitory orders and barricades erected by the police.

Some senior officials have also been dispatched from Chennai to the strife-torn town to assess the situation and take measures to restore calm, sources said.

Over 4,000 police personnel from the nearby district have been deployed to prevent crowding proved futile, as the protesters at various areas breached the barricades and marched forward towards the collectorate. In his Twitter account MK Stalin, DMK working President wrote: "ADMK Government is responsible for the violence in Tuticorin". They had intensified protests demanding closure of the plant after reports came in that the group was seeking licence for expansion as the initial 25 year licence comes to an end. The plant was ordered to be closed for a while after the allegations but later the National Green Tribunal let the plant reopen after some time.

Tuesday's protest turned violent when a crowd waving black flags stormed the district government headquarters and an apartment block for Vedanta employees, said a company official, who declined to be named for fear of being targeted.

Environmental activists and some local politicians want the government to permanently close the plant. Sterlite Copper represents the copper unit of Vedanta Limited. He said there was no point in putting up a plant near residential and agricultural zone. "They are the ones who lose their lives, earlier due to Sterlite and now due to the Government's orders".

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