Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu | May 23, 2018 | Excessive use of violence by the police on residents of Tuticorin, fighting for their right to clean and safe environment is appalling and has left the country in a state of shock. They were demanding the closure of Vedanta’s Sterlite copper smelter, in Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu. We express our deep anguish that the space to protest in this democracy continues to shrink by the day.
“The police have no right to kill protestors, who have been bearing with polluted air and water for years. Pollution is a public health emergency that needs to be addressed with immediacy. Industries have to be held accountable for not adhering to the environmental norms. Several thousands of citizens are raising their voices. This speaks volumes about the gravity of the issue. Therefore it needs to be addressed immediately.
“This incident ominously indicates towards a nexus between the state and big corporations, which is dangerous. The high-handedness of state police is condemnable and unacceptable.,’’ says Diya Deb, Campaign Director, Greenpeace India.
While several have been left injured, the death toll of protesters demanding closure of Vedanta’s Sterlite copper smelter has gone up to 11 people. The plant has not been adhering to environmental norms for years.
The protests against Sterlite’s polluting copper smelter in Tuticorin have been going on for several years now. The protests escalated when Sterlite announced its plans to expand its capacity, even though the state Pollution Control Board had rejected its licence to operate in April saying the company had not complied with local environmental laws. The board has accused Sterlite of dumping copper slag in a river and not furnishing reports of groundwater analysis of borewells near the plant. The Supreme Court has pulled up Vedanta on several occasions for environmental crimes.