Vedanta Sterlite copper smelter must shut down: Citizens pen a hard-hitting letter

At Last TN Govt Orders Permanent Closure Of Sterlite Plant

Residents who say the copper smelter is causing environmental damage, have been protesting against it for months. Protestors set fire a local administrator's office and burned more than 110 vehicles, according to police, who responded with batons and tear gas before firing on the crowd.

Earlier in the day, Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam had asserted that "Amma's government" will take resolute steps for the permanent closure of Vedanta group's copper plant.

Sterlite Copper is a unit of Vedanta Ltd which operates a 400,000-tonne per annum capacity plant here.

Sterlite Copper, which now operates a 400,000-tonne per annum unit in the city, maintains it has received necessary permits and has not violated any norms.

"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.

A PIL praying for a probe led by a District judge was filed in the Madras High Court on May 23, while the National Human Rights Commission approached the Delhi High Court on May 24 seeking a direction to carry out a probe in Thoothukudi.

The move comes a week after Thoothukudi was rocked by violence as police personnel shot protesters, killing 13 people in all.

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The Tamil Nadu government has appointed an inquiry commissioned headed by retired judge Aruna Jagadeesan to investigate the violence, which erupted when over 20,000 protesters marched towards the District Collectorate despite Section 144 being in force.

Indian billionaire Anil Agarwal often talks about his dream to turn his London-listed company Vedanta Resources into a global resources giant. "Normalcy is returning. But till the copper smelter plant is permanently closed there will not be total peace in the city", S. Raja of Thoothukudi Traders Association told IANS.

Activists have criticised the police for firing live rounds at the protesters.

The police action had received widespread condemnation from Opposition parties as well as global human rights bodies.

The families of each victim would be offered 1 million rupees (£11,000) compensation, he added. The company has appealed to government and authorities to ensure safety of our employees, facilities, and surrounding communities.

However, the TN Pollution Control Board has rejected the company's application to renew the license to operate the plant beyond March 2018.

Tamil Nadu is one of India's most prosperous and industrialised states but, as elsewhere in the country, environmental regulations are routinely breached and poorly policed. Residents living in towns and villages nearby have long alleged that the plant had damaged their health, water, and environment.