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Sterlite protest updates: 13 people killed, 102 others wounded, confirms new Thoothukudi district collector

The NHRC has filed a petition in the Delhi High Court to order an inquiry into the police killings in Thoothukudi. This plea will be heard on Friday by the court. Meanwhile, DMK's working president MK Stalin led a protest against the Palaniswami government outside the chief minister's office in Chennai.

FP Staff May 24, 2018 21:29:03 IST
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Sterlite protest updates: 13 people killed, 102 others wounded, confirms new Thoothukudi district collector

Highlights

08:50 (ist)

In her petition to Madras HC, activist Fatima Babu says Sterlite Industries 'illegally obtained' environmental clearance

The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court stayed the expansion of the Vedanta's copper smelter plant in Tuticorin district, amid a continuing agitation against the plant. A bench comprising Justice M Sundar and Justice Anitha Sumanth passed the order staying construction of Vedanta's (formerly Sterlite Industries Limited) second unit in Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu, on a petition filed by environmental activist Fathima Babu.

In her petition, Fathima says, "The original environmental clearance and each renewal was illegally obtained by availing exemption from public consultation by misrepresenting the location of the project as being within a 'notified Industrial Estate/Complex'. This incurable defect strikes at the very foundation of the clearance and is a violation of substantive rights of the people of Thoothukudi and their fundamental right to a clean and safe environment."

She further says: From the very inception, the operations of the 4 th Respondent in Thoothukudi district have been met with severe resistance in view of the adverse impact the units have had on the environment. These apprehensions have been borne out as the unit has caused serious pollution. Several instances of pollution have been documented and there have been several cases filed against the 4th Respondent for its history of violations of applicable laws including laws designed to protect the environment, natural resources and the local communities."

The bench also directed the central government to submit within four months a report after holding a public hearing in the district to invite public opinion on the plan for expansion. Stertile had got consent to construct the second unit, as the existing unit remained shut for nearly two months now after the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board refused to renew its consent to operate (CTO) the unit.

08:02 (ist)

Internet services temporarily suspended in Thoothukudi

The internet services have been temporarily suspended in Thoothukudi from 9 pm on Wednesday till further instruction by the administration, ANI reported. 11 people were killed in the firing by police during the Sterlite protests on 22 May. A man was killed in fresh police firing on Wednesday, while some others were injured in clashes with security personnel in the town.

07:50 (ist)

Vedanta's projects have run into trouble in Odisha, Rajasthan, Punjab

Despite a ban on mining in Odisha's Niyamgiri, Vedanta has managed to operate its Lanjigarh refinery so far. The Odisha Cabinet amended its long-term bauxite linkage policy only in February to facilitate Vedanta to source bauxite from the Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC).

According to a piece by The Wire, while the refinery uses a reservoir to store the waste product "red toxic mud", the plant's chimneys expel toxins like sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter 10 and particulate matter 2.5. There is a likelihood that the plant's practices are linked with health issues like breathing difficulties which people living nearby claim to experience.

Meanwhile, Vedanta is also named as an accused in the infamous Rs 600 crore "scam" on the allotment of rock phosphate mines in Rajasthan.

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LIVE NEWS and UPDATES

May 24, 2018 - 21:26 (IST)

Here is an interesting take on the Sterlite stir so far:

May 24, 2018 - 21:16 (IST)

No chances of Sterlite plant starting operations again: New district collector

"There aren't any chances of the Sterlite Plant starting operations again. This is the wish of the Tamil Nadu government as well," said District Collector Sandeep Nanduri.

He also said that the decision on whether to recommence bus services from Thoothukudi will be taken tomorrow. Meanwhile, arrangements are being made to truck in vegetables from Madurai.

Input by Prabakar/101Reporters

May 24, 2018 - 20:54 (IST)

Autorickshaws won't run across Tamil Nadu from 6 am to 6 pm

Autos will not run tomorrow across Tamil Nadu from 6 am to 6 pm, CITU Auto Drivers Association General Secretary Shivaji has announced.

Input by Prasad/101Reporters

May 24, 2018 - 20:50 (IST)

Thoothukudi residents unhappy with the government

“What the government is doing is completely ridiculous. They are pulling off a cheap stunt by burning their own vehicles and blaming people for it. I have been mentally affected,” said a Thoothukudi resident, on condition of anonymity.

Other residents too want to raise their voices against what is being seen as police vandalism, but the brutality that they have been facing since the last three days have left them afraid of talking to the media.

“They (the government) do not want any information to leave the place. They have cut internet connectivity in three districts. The don’t want the entire state to stand up in protest and that is why they banned internet connectivity. We are afraid that they might cut all our television connections as well if the situation is not resolved,” said a resident from Naggapuram in Thoothukudi.

Input by The NewsCart team

May 24, 2018 - 19:54 (IST)

13 people have been killed, 102 have been wounded: New Thoothukudi district collector

Sandeep Nanduri, day-old district collector of Thoothukudi, released information on the casualties over the past 3 days.

Nanduri said 13 people have been killed and 102 were wounded. Apart from this, 34 policemen have also been wounded. 98 vehicles, including two-wheelers, have been damaged and the district collector's office has seen damages to the tune of Rs 29 lakh.

Input by Prabakar/101Reporters

May 24, 2018 - 19:42 (IST)

Tamizhaga Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam says govt has enforced undeclared emergency

The Tamizhaga Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam has issued a statement on the violence in Tuticorin and said that "the government has enforced an undeclared emergency on the people of Tuticorin".

"The 100 days peaceful, democratic agitation by the ordinary people of Tuticorin against the Sterlite copper plant has brought to sharp focus the very idea of development. The Indian State appears restless to pursue a reckless development agenda even at the cost of environment and overall well being of the people," the statement said.

"That a 17-year-old school-going girl Snolin has been shot in the mouth from close range should shake the conscience of the entire nation. That the national English media and even the regional media have underplayed this heinous crime is a matter of extreme concern," the statement further said.

May 24, 2018 - 18:47 (IST)

Demonstrations have spread to other districts like Erode, Ramanathapuram and Thiruvarur

Normal life was affected in Thoothukudi, with shops closed and people remaining indoors even as the protest against police action spread across the state on Thursday, with demonstrations in districts like Erode, Ramanathapuram and Thiruvarur.

In Thoothukudi, police have stepped up patrolling to stop people from forming groups in public places while internet connection has been shut in the district and neighbouring areas. — IANS

May 24, 2018 - 18:20 (IST)

Puducherry Congress supports bandh called on Friday over Tuticorin violence

Congress in Puducherry announced its support to the day-long bandh called by various political parties on Friday to condemn the 'killing' of the people during anti-sterlite protests in neighbouring Tamil Nadu.

PWD Minister and PCC president A Namassivayam said the Congress supported the bandh being observed on Friday to demand closure of Vedanta's Sterlite unit in Tuticorin. — PTI

May 24, 2018 - 18:11 (IST)

'Consultative Committee for Peace Restoration in Thoothukudi' meets

According to ANI, this meeting is headed by the district magistrate, SP, IG (south zone) and state government monitoring officers. An all-party delegation will meet them later.

May 24, 2018 - 18:08 (IST)

Protesters demand dissolution of the Tamil Nadu government

Major demands of the combined protest by several regional parties, activists and public are that ruling Edapadi Palanisami's AIADMK must dissolve the government, justice must be ensured for the dead civilians in Tuticorin, and Vedanta's Sterlite Copper smelter in Tuticorin must be shut down.

They also demand immediate dismissal of the District Collector and DGP for making an organised planned murder of 12 and more civilians who participated in the protests.

Inputs by Krithika Srinivasan/The NewsCart

Sterlite protest LIVE updates: Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi lashed out at the Narendra Modi government over the anti-Sterlite protests and said that the prime minister was silent on the violence but was throwing a fitness challenge.

The Madras High Court has rejected the state government's appeal against the preservation of bodies.

The Tamil Nadu government has appealed against the Madras High Court order to preserve bodies of those killed in the police firing in Thoothukudi. "The government is unable to give an answer to the relatives who have arrived there to collect the body," the government petitioner said.

Addressing the media, Chief Minister Palaniswami said, "The entire episode which happened was primarily because of certain political parties, NGOs and anti-social elements, who took protestors to a wrong path." In a series of tweets, DMK leader MK Stalin that his party will "continue its struggle to have justice".

The police tracked down protestors at their homes in the middle of the night using footage from CCTV cameras, alleged Mariyappan, the admin of the 'Thoothukudi People' which is a group on Facebook. Mariyappan alleged that police used the footage from CCTV cameras near the government hospital and one of the major signals there to trace the protestors involved in the agitations there. "They knew that these people were likely from the surrounding areas like Anna Nagar and were able to track them down using government data," he said. Some of those arrested last night are being remanded today, he said. Mariyappan, who is in his home in Thoothukudi, said no offices are open today, internet remains suspended and only banking domains are functional.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has filed a petition in the Delhi High Court to order an inquiry into the police killings in Thoothukudi. This plea will be heard on Friday by the court. Meanwhile, DMK's working president MK Stalin led a protest against the Palaniswami government outside the chief minister's office in Chennai. He was forcibly removed as he sat in dharna in front of the chief minister's office. He had be there along with about 20 of his MLAs demanding an audience with the CM. He has been sitting in protest in front of the Chennai Secretariat.

In an official order, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board ordered the closure of the copper smelter plant in Thoothukudi.

A 42-year-old man succumbed to injuries in Tuticorin Genera Hospital on Thursday taking the death toll to 13. Internet Services in Thoothukudi were suspended on Wednesday at 9 pm. According to latest reports, services will be suspended for the next five days. According to ANI, the government has decided not to allow internet services in the riot-hit area where clash between protesters and police claimed 12 lives. Till now, at least 67 people have been arrested in connection to the violence.

Tamil Nadu government has reportedly disconnected electricity supply to Sterlite plant in Thoothukudi on recommendation of the Commodity Control Board. Meanwhile, Firstpost accessed a copy of the petition filed by Fatima Babu, an environmental activist, in the Madras High Court. In her petition, Fatima lists out why the high court should not allow functioning of the copper smelter plants in Tuticorin.

"The said proposal was considered, and environmental clearance was granted to the 4th Respondent’s copper smelter plant-II on 01.01.2009. The requirement of public hearing prior to grant of such environemental clearance was exempted based on the representations of the 4th Respondent that the proposed plant would be located inside notified SIPCOT industrial area. The public hearing process is an essential part of the environmental clearance process. I state that a majority of the residents of Thoothukudi and those living in the vicinity of the 4th Respondent have a very poor image of the company and are angry with it for twisting and violating the law, polluting the environment, damaging the health of people, and getting government authorities to collude with its illegal schemes. This is evident from the massive protests ongoing in Thoothukudi even at the time of presentation of the present Writ Petition," Fatima says in her petition.

Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani took to Twitter to urge the united Opposition that attended HD Kumaraswamy's swearing in ceremony to visit violence-hit Thoothukudi. "I sincerely request that these same people take time off from photo op to come visit Thoothukudi and join hands to protest Vedanta and the horrific corporate, state-sponsored murder of civilians," he said in a tweet.

Late on Wednesday, Chief Minister K Palaniswami, and his deputy O Panneerselvam called on Governor Banwarilal Purohit and apprised him of the violent incidents against the Sterlite copper plant at Tuticorin. Top officials took part in the meeting held in Chennai on Wednesday night and it lasted about half an hour.

Tamil Nadu's Tuticorin town was on the boil again on Wednesday, with a man shot dead in police firing following fresh clashes between security personnel and locals demanding closure of a copper factory over pollution concerns, a day after police action left 10 protesters dead.

In the line of Opposition fire, the state government constituted a Commission of Inquiry headed by retired Madras High Court judge Aruna Jagadeesan to probe the violence, and shunted out the Collector and Superintendent of Police of Tuticorin.

Collector N Venkatesh has been replaced by the collector of neighbouring Tirunelveli Sandeep Nanduri, while Nilgiris district police chief Murali Rambha will take overfrom SP P Mahendran.

The Ministry of Home Affairs has, meanwhile, sought a report from the Tamil Nadu government on the circumstances leading to police firing on protesters demanding the closure of Vedanta group's Sterlite Copper plant, which they claim had polluted ground water in the area, official sources said in New Delhi.

Taking cognizance of the large-scale violence, the National Human Rights Commission issued notices to Tamil Nadu chief secretary and the director general of police, asking them to submit a detailed report in two weeks, while the Madras High Court stayed the proposed expansion of the plant.

Enraged over Tuesday's killings, protesters took to streets on Wednesday morning, attacking police with stones, setting two government vehicles on fire, and trying to storm into a hospital where injured were kept, prompting security personnel to baton-charge them and open fire, officials said.

Several people, including police personnel, were injured in clashes.

Seeking to control the damage done due to police action, the government announced constitution of the Jagadeesan commission of inquiry.

"The panel will cover the law and order incidents following the siege of the District Collectorate on 22 May by thousands of persons violating prohibitory orders," an official release said in Chennai.

Reinforcements have been rushed to Tuticorin from adjoining districts to assist the local police and civil administration in restoring calm in the strife-torn town.

A Madras High Court bench comprising Justices M Sundar and Anitha Sumanth, meanwhile, stayed the proposed expansion of the plant on a petition filed by environment activist Fathima Babu.

The bench also directed the central government to submit a report within four months after inviting public opinion on the expansion plan.

Sterlite had got consent for expansion, after the existing unit was shut two months ago by an order of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board.

NHRC, citing media reports, observed, "It appears that the authorities probably failed to foresee the tragic violence which took place".

Noting that the agitation against the alleged polluting unit was on for more than three months, the rights body said effective precautionary measures and deployment of adequate number of police personnel could possibly have averted violence.

"It also appears from several media reports, including those on TV news channels, that the police resorted to firing on unarmed protesters without following the standard operating procedure, which tantamounts to serious violation of human rights and thus is a matter of concern," it said.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi alleged that Tamils were being killed as they had refused to "bow" to the RSS ideology.

"Tamils are being killed since they refuse to bow to the ideology of the RSS. The feelings of the Tamil people can never be trampled by the bullets of the RSS and Modi. We are with you Tamil brothers and sisters #SterliteProtest," he said in a tweet in Tamil.

DMK working president M K Stalin demanded the resignation of Chief Minister K Palaniswami and state police chief TK Rajendran.

"On behalf of the DMK, I strongly condemn the violence. Chief Minister Palaniswami and DGP T K Rajendran should take moral responsibility for the police action and resign," Stalin, who visited the families of the victims, told reporters.

"Will Tamil Nadu chief minister take action against DGP for failing to maintain law and order? Will chief secretary explain her role in this entire episode? Will there be justice for Sterlite protest?" he later said in a tweet.

"Why was there not adequate police presence to maintain law and order during Sterlite protest ? Is it accurate to say that there was a total failure of State intelligence which led to these unfortunate deaths?" he said in another tweet.

Actor and Makkal Neethi Maiam president Kamal Haasan also visited the injured in Tuticorin and extended his condolences to the bereaved families. Actor Rajinikanth also condemned the police action.

"The incident is due to the total negligence of the government. I strongly condemn the unlawful activities by the police," the actor said in a video message that was shared on his official twitter handle.

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