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Published: Wed, May 23, 2018
Medical | By Garry George

Nine die as Tuticorin Sterlite Copper protest turns violent

Nine die as Tuticorin Sterlite Copper protest turns violent

The agitators raised slogans and pelted stones at the police and also damaged their vehicles.

In the meantime, the Tamil Nadu government reportedly imposed a blackout on television news channels in the Thoothukudi region that were reporting on the Sterlite protests.

The protesters have alleged that police had used force without provocation on the peaceful gathering.

Police personnel tackles the agitators demanding the closure of Vedanta's Sterlite Copper unit as the protest enters the 100th day, in Tuticorin, on Tuesday.

With the protests against Sterlite Copper in Tuticorin on Tuesday turning violent when thousands of protestors marched towards the district collectorate, chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami convened an emergency meeting at the state secretariat with top officials to take stock of the situation. "Police had to control the violence", the CM, who holds the Home portfolio, said.

The TN government must take action over the concerns expressed by the protesters, they said.

Police say clashes broke out as a huge crowd of protesters stormed district government headquarters. He said an inquiry commission would be set up to probe the incident and promised government jobs for family members of those who were killed.

Support has poured in for the current phase of protests from political quarters including a publicised visit by actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan, MDMK chief Vaiko, VCK chief Thol. The activists believe that a plant such as Sterlite Copper plant would require large amounts of surface water and resources and hence could end up facilitating depletion of drinking water in the area and a shortage of agricultural supply, Indian Express reported. They claim that copper plant contaminated the groundwater and caused respiratory problems.

The agitation against Sterlite Copper, which represents the copper unit of Vedanta Limited, escalated in February this year after the company announced the expansion of its unit in the coastal city of Thoothukudi (Tuticorin) in Tamil Nadu.

Tamil Nadu Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar told reporters in Chennai that the loss of lives was unfortunate in a state known for peace.

It said in March this year, the company had applied for removal of consent to operate (CTO) for its existing smelter plant.

The report had also said that State Industries Promotion Corp. of Tamil Nadu Ltd, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board and the ministry of environment and forests misled the Madras high court on Sterlite Industries' proposed expansion plans to avoid public scrutiny.

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