9 dead, 30 others injured in anti-Sterlite police firing

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'The inaction of the government has led to the people's protests, and police resorting to firing to control it. Action should be taken to shut down the plant immediately to address this issue, ' MK Stalin, leader of the main opposition group in Tamil Nadu, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, said in a Facebook post.

Thousands of local residents have been protesting for more than three months against the Sterlite copper smelting plant and its reported expansion but complained that the state government had not responded to their demands.

The minister said the government had not given the licence for expansion of the plant.

9 dead, 30 others injured in anti-Sterlite police firing
9 dead, 30 others injured in anti-Sterlite police firing

According to hospital sources, the condition of two persons, who suffered head injuries in police firing, is critical.

About 20,000 people gathered at the protest site and stormed the district collector's office in Tamil Nadu's port city of Tuticorin on Tuesday.

Police resorted to lathicharge, tear gas and water cannons, but have denied using bullets.

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Sterlite Copper represents the copper unit of Vedanta Limited.

A state minister defended the actions of the police, saying that it was "unavoidable".

Social activists have also joined the protests against the company. Reports say that the police opened fire at around 12:50 pm when they manhandled a freelance photographer's camera and snatched the memory card. 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. The CM also said in a statement that the protesters took out a procession towards the collectorate in defiance of the prohibitory orders clamped in the specific area in Tuticorin.

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Actors Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth, who recently announced their entry into politics, have also expressed solidarity with the protesters.

Locals have said the plant is polluting air and groundwater in the region.

People's Watch further observes that the Government of Tamil Nadu, which was given a choice to either stand by its people or by a copper industry, chose the private entity instead. They have always been dying, first because of the plant now because of the government's attitude. "The Tamil Nadu govt is responsible for the violence and the loss of lives".

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Earlier in March 2018, the company had applied for renewal of consent to operate (CTO) for its existing Smelter plant at Thoothukudi. The application has been rejected for want of more clarifications after the state pollution control board found that the factory hs not fulfilled some of the major factors including non-submission of a detailed ground water analysis, action not taken to dispose waste and not building a compound wall to arrest water mixing in the nearby river.

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