Sterlite plant ordered shut in Tuticorin; Opposition calls it a face-saving exercise as legal challenges awaits Tamil Nadu government

The Tamil Nadu government on Monday ordered a complete shutdown of the Sterlite copper plant in Toothukudi (also called Tuticorin), after days of protests which saw 13 people losing their lives in police firing.

FP Staff May 29, 2018 08:23:47 IST
Sterlite plant ordered shut in Tuticorin; Opposition calls it a face-saving exercise as legal challenges awaits Tamil Nadu government

The Tamil Nadu government on Monday ordered a complete shutdown of the Sterlite copper plant in Toothukudi (also called Tuticorin), after days of protests which saw 13 people losing their lives in police firing.

Sterlite plant ordered shut in Tuticorin Opposition calls it a facesaving exercise as legal challenges awaits Tamil Nadu government

File image of Sterlite Industries Ltd's copper plant in Tuticorin. Reuters

According to a report in The News Minute, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami said told reporters on Monday, "For a long time people of Thoothukudi were demanding the closure of the plant. Around 2: 30 pm today (Monday) various officials met me and the Deputy Chief Minister and demanded that the plant be closed. This is a move by Amma’s government respecting the feelings of the people".

However, people were quick to see through this move of the AIADMK government. Many have called it a political gimmick which has been announced to save the party's face. Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam chief TTV Dhinakaran tweeted, “The Tamilnadu government has issued notice to permanently close the Sterlite plant and this is a victory for the people. However, it is painful to see that the government has been victimized by many lives and has been released after the death of hundreds of victims in physical and mental conditions".

However, founder of Makkal Neethi Maiyam, actor-turned politician, Kamal Haasan termed the plant closure as a "victory of the people". "The recent order of the Tamil Nadu Government for permanent closure of the Sterlite Copper unit in Thoothukudi is a victory for the might of the people. All political parties should humble themselves before this victory of the people; salute the martyrs and learn from them", he tweeted. In a series of tweets thereafter Haasan expressed grief over the Tamil Nadu government's inability to take swift action which led to the "unfortunate loss of lives". He also said that "any legal challenge to this order by the Company should be defended appropriately by the State Government to ensure that the present order is permanently implemented".

Actor Rajinikanth dedicated the order to those who lost their lives in the 22 May violence and hoped for no such protests to occur in the future, in an audio message on Twitter.

Opposition leader and DMK working president MK Stalin said, "Had this Government Order been passed before the death of 13 people, we would have welcomed it. But now, it looks like it has a hidden agenda. This move by the state government is mere eyewash. If victims of Tuticorin don’t get justice, we will approach the court," News18 reported.

Vaiko, founder of Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) and one of the petitioners in the 2010 Madras High Court case against Sterlite, alleged that the Tamil Nadu government's order is merely a farce. “Their intention is to escape the people’s wrath with this order. The Sterlite issue is far from over, the court’s decision has to come and whether it will be a repeat of 2013, I do not know", The Economic Times quoted him as saying.

Though the case will now face a legal trial but according to the News18 report, deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam has said that "even if their order gets challenged legally, it will be faced strongly and the government will take resolute steps to permanently close down the copper unit".

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