Sterlite copper plant will be shut permanently: Panneerselvam

Sterlite copper plant will be shut permanently: Panneerselvam

Since February, residents of the port city of Tuticorin have protested against the expansion of a copper smelting plant and demanded its closure because of environmental concerns.

As Sterlite Copper deals with the fallout of the violent protests as well as the shutdown of the copper smelting plant, nearly 32,500 jobs have been axed in the Tuticorin plant. Police said they were compelled to respond with live ammunition after demonstrators pelted police with stones, attacked a government building, and set vehicles on fire.

Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami said the government had issued the GO in deference to the sentiments of the people.

"Under section 18 (1)(b) of the Water Act, 1974, in the larger public interest, the government endorses the closure direction of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) and also directs the TNPCB to seal the unit and close the plant permanently", an order from the environment and forests department said.

Meanwhile, the protests which have been on for almost 100 days, took a turn for the worse when protestors began ransacking and putting vehicles and public property on fire.

The state's chief minister has ordered a judicial inquiry into the shootings but the move failed to stem rising anger over the clashes, which also left about 80 wounded.

Protesters rampaged for hours in the southern state of Tamil Nadu calling for the closure of the plant owned by British-based mining giant Vedanta Resources.

Vedanta Resources' stock was down about 12% at 1755 IST on the London Stock Exchange.

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Environmental activists and some local politicians want the government to shut the plant permanently.

Raja also said murder charge should be registered against the police officials who shot the protestors.

Rahul Gandhi, leader of the main opposition Congress party, has described the deaths as "a brutal example of state-sponsored terrorism".

The company has sought to renew the licence of the temporarily non-operational plant and hopes to double its production capacity.

Panneerselvam said he met 47 injured persons and consoled them, and received representations from them which will be fulfilled. "The company is working with the relevant authorities to ensure the safety of our employees, facilities and the surrounding community", she said.

Tamil Nadu is one of India's most industrialised and prosperous states and similar protests over environmental concerns have turned deadly in the past.

According to media reports, the residents of the port city of Thootukudi in Tamil Nadu state and environmentalists were demonstrating against one of India's biggest copper plants for more than three months, alleging that it was a major source of pollution and a risk to fisheries.

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