Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) chief Kamal Haasan began his protest against copper plant Sterlite located in Thoothukudi district in coastal Tamil Nadu.
Addressing hundreds of protesters, Haasan accused the state government of failing to stop expansion plans of the copper plant of Sterlite Industries, a subsidiary of London-based Vedanta Resources Plc.
“The people will do it if the government does not,” he said referring to the inaction of the AIADMK government even as the protest reached its 49th day.
He said the voice of the people of Thoothukudi would reach the Centre.
“I have neither come here as a politician nor a movie star,” he said, adding, “I have come as an individual.”
He credited the protesters with encouraging him to take up the issue and hailed them for inspiring others to speak up against the copper plant. “We are with our children,” he said.
On Thursday, Haasan had said the Sterlite plant might lead to “a Bhopal-like tragedy” in Thoothukudi.
On Saturday, just a day before Haasan’s protest, Rajinikanth slammed the AIADMK government of acting as a mute spectator and not listening to protestors.
“People are suffering and struggling for 47 days saying that they are affected by various diseases due to Sterlite factory…One can’t understand why the government, which gave the nod for the plant, is not taking any action and is just watching,” he said in a tweet in Tamil.
ஸ்டெர்லைட் தொழிற்சாலையால் மக்கள் பல்வேறு நோய்களால் பாதிக்கப்பட்டிருக்கிறோம் என்று 47 நாட்களா அவதிப்பட்டு போராடிக்கொண்டிருக்கும் போது, தொழிற்சாலை நடத்த அனுமதி கொடுத்த அரசு எந்த நடவடிக்கையும் எடுக்காமல் வேடிக்கை பார்த்துக்கொண்டிருப்பது புரியாத புதிராக உள்ளது #SterliteProtest
— Rajinikanth (@rajinikanth) March 31, 2018
Thousands of protesters, especially from Kumarettiyapuram, have been up against the plant’s proposed expansion plans citing the threat it poses to the people in neighbouring villages. They claim that copper plant contaminated the groundwater and caused respiratory problems.
On Wednesday, Tamil Nadu environment minister KC Karupannan assured that the government will launch an inquiry to find out the environmental impacts of the Sterlite factory.