Tamil Nadu protests: Sterlite plant non-operational after 9 dead in clashes

Protesters have alleged that the plant was polluting groundwater in their area; CM Palaniswami announced a compensation of Rs 1 million (Rs 10 lakh)

At least nine people were killed and another 20 injured on Tuesday on the 100th day of protest against the expansion of Vedanta’s Sterlite Copper unit in Tamil Nadu‘s Tuticorin, also known as Thoothukudi.

Later in the day, Sterlite Copper said it is unfortunate of what happened on Tuesday and called itself to be non-operational, ANI reported.

Protesters have alleged that the plant was polluting groundwater in their area. Sterlite Copper represents the copper unit of Vedanta Limited which operates a 400,000 tonnes per annum-plant in Tuticorin.

Chief Minister Palaniswami said in a statement in Chennai that the protesters took out a procession towards the collectorate in defiance of the prohibitory orders clamped in the specific area in Tuticorin.

Hurling stones and setting government vehicles an78d public property on fire, the agitators went on the rampage in the town, about 600 km from Tamil Nadu capital Chennai.

Police said nearly 5000 protesters gathered near a local church and insisted on taking out a rally to the district collectorate after they were denied permission to march to the copper smelter plant.

Police personnel prepare to tackle a crowd as agitators demanding closure of Vedanta’s Sterlite Copper unit entered the 100th day, in Tuticorin, on Tuesday. The agitation turned violent with police opening fire.

Initial pushing and shoving soon led to violent clashes after agitated locals began hurling stones at police and overturned a vehicle. Security personnel used batons and burst teargas shells to break up the protest.

Many were injured in stone-pelting by the agitators, who also set some vehicles on fire. Windscreens of some government cars were smashed and bank premises were attacked by the rampaging mobs.

Police said section 144 of CrPc has been invoked in and around the Sterlite unit to provide security, according to the orders of the Madras High Court.

Meanwhile, a peaceful demonstration was held near the old bus stand in the town, also demanding the closure of the Sterlite unit and the proposed expansion of the plant.

Several shops in this town, Srivaikundam and Oddapidaram remained shut in support of the protest, police said.

The district has been witnessing several protests by locals and others against the Sterlite Copper plant in Tamil Nadu and its proposed expansion.

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