Five days after 13 anti-Sterlite protesters died in police firing and lathicharge, Tamil Nadu government on Monday ordered that the Vedanta group’s copper plant in Tuticorin will be shut down permanently. The government has asked the state Pollution Control Board to seal the Vedanta’s plant.
The chief minister of Tamil Nadu Edappadi K Palaniswami has said that the decision of the plant’s closure has been taken in line with the sentiments of people.
Locals had been protesting against the expansion plans of Sterlite plant since early February. On 22 May, their 100th day of agitation, police opened fire on the anti-Sterlite protesters. While many died the same day, others, including one who had been reportedly hit with batons, succumbed to injuries subsequently.
The entire opposition in Tamil Nadu came down heavily on the government for the police action. Leading names from the Tamil film industry, which wields tremendous influence in the state’s politics, condemned the killing of the protesters and slammed Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami’s government.
Earlier on Monday, TN Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam had visited Tuticorin (Thoothukudi) to enquire about the health of those injured in the violence. The police action had invited severe criticism for the ruling AIADMK government.
Speaking to reporters after his visit to the hospital, Panneerselvam assured that his government would take all necessary steps to close the Sterlite copper smelter plant owned by Vedanta Ltd.
“We will take all possible steps to ensure that the Sterlite Copper plant is shut down in Tuticorin,” Panneerselvam said.
Accompanied by Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar, Panneerselvam met the injured persons and their families. The Deputy CM also said compensation to the injured was being paid.
Meanwhile, normalcy is gradually returning to Tuticorin, with shops and other establishments opening for customers.
Internet connectivity, which was suspended for five days from 23 May, resumed on Sunday midnight.
DMK and other opposition parties in Tamil Nadu held a dawn-to-dusk bandh on 25 May.
In a video posted on Twitter, the 67-year-old Rajinikanth criticised the AIADMK-led Tamil Nadu government. Speaking in Tamil and offering condolences to the families of those who lost their lives, Rajinikanth said, “I condemn the carelessness of the government, failure of the state machinery and the police brutality in the Sterlite protests.”
Rajinikanth accused the government led by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisami of not respecting the sentiments of the people and directly held the government responsible for the deaths.