What happened to the Sterlite system

What is anti-Sterlite protest?

Police officers intervene in the agitators calling for the closure of the Vedanta, the Sterlite copper unit, as a protest enters the 100th day, in Tuticorin, on Tuesday. (PTI photo)

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Tension gripped the coastal city of Tamil Nadu as agitators in Tuticorin, nearly 600 km from Chennai, clashed with police protesting against the proposed expansion of the copper smelter of Sterlite Copper, a unit of the Vedanta group, over the pollution concerns. At least nine people were killed and several others were seriously injured in the clashes with police. With hundreds of residents and social activists speaking out against the Copper Unit, the situation in the city is very critical and it is a serious deployment of the police.

What is the Tuticorin Copper Plant?

The copper unit in Tuticorin has the capacity to produce 400,000 tons of copper cathodes per year. It is made by Vedanta's Sterlite Copper Unit, controlled by the Vedanta-Limited. It is owned by Anil Agarwal who started his professional career as a scrap dealer from Bihar. The unit in Tuticorin was shut down on March 29th this year for 15 days for the "maintenance work". The company plans to double its production, increasing it up to 800,000 tons of copper cathodes per year.

Police officers prepare against a crowd of agitators calling for closure of the Vedanta, the Sterlite copper unit, with the 100th day, in Tuticorin, on Tuesday. (PTI photo)

Why are residents protesting against the copper production unit?

Local residents are protesting for the immediate closure of the unit since February this year. They claim that the pollution generated by the unit has contaminated the waters in the region, demanding that it face serious health problems. Environmental activists have also voiced concern since copper smelting leads to various types of pollution and you have to stay far from residential areas.

Sterlite Copper's response to the protest

Responding to the allegations against the company said that the facility has received necessary permits and has violated all standards. A report The Economic Times cited P Ramnath, CEO of Sterlite Copper, as saying, "The company had offered to open its doors for people to see for themselves as beliefs, rumors and half-truths."

However, the offer was turned down, insisting by activists that it wasn't what happened at the factory, but the environmental damage it caused.

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Political leaders informed about the situation

Various politicians have raised concerns about the violence and condemned the ongoing situation in Tuticorin. DMK work President and leader of the opposition in the state parliament M K Stalin condemned the “police atrocities” that have taken place. Actors Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth, who recently announced their entry into politics, have also expressed solidarity with the protesters and called on the ruling AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu to take action. Kamal Haasan, the founder of Makkal Neethi Mayyam, was quoted by PTI as saying, “The expansion (the sterlite copper) should not be allowed at all. If possible, it will be good to close the (existing) unit. "

Nine people have so far been reported dead in the clashes with police. (Source: ANI))

He added, “What is the need to get the plant near residential and agricultural zone? ... to say that the location near the port is not acceptable. " President of Congress Rahul Gandhi describes the protest as "a brutal example of state sponsored terrorism". The congressional leaders in a tweet said, “The hunt down by police of 9 people in the Sterlite protest in Tamil Nadu is a brutal example of state sponsored terrorism. These citizens were murdered because they were against against injustice. My thoughts & prayers are with the families of the martyrs and the injured. "

The hunt down by police of 9 people in the #SterliteProtest in Tamil Nadu is a brutal example of state sponsored terrorism. These citizens were murdered because they were against against injustice. My thoughts & prayers are with the families of the martyrs and the injured.

- Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) May 22, 2018

Edappadi K Palaniswami orders judicial investigation

Appealing to people to keep the peace, the chief minister ordered the constitution ”one-man commission under a retired high court judge to investigate the incident. At the same time he announced compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the families of those who were killed, Rs 3 lakh for those who were seriously injured, and Rs 1 lakh for people who suffered minor injuries.

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