Sterlite plant protests leave 9 dead

Madras High Court issues interim stay on expansion of Sterlite Copper plant in Thoothukudi

Security personnel used batons and burst teargas shells to break up the protest.

The government said in a statement that the protesters had set fire to police vehicles and pelted stones at the collector's office. Windscreens of some government cars were smashed and bank premises were attacked by the rampaging mobs. Reinforcements have been rushed from neighbouring districts to Tuticorin to assist the local administration in restoring normalcy. Putting the onus on the Centre, the HC said the NDA government needs to give a decision by September on whether the expansion of Sterlite plant should take place. The National Human Rights Commission also issued a notice to the Tamil Nadu chief secretary and the state police chief, and asked for a response within two weeks, ANI reported.

Rajinikanth said that this is the result of government's indifference towards people's feelings.

"The Sterlite Copper plant is now non-operational as we await approval for the consent to operate", it said.

Sterlite Copper is a unit of Vedanta Limited which operates a 400,000-tonne per annum capacity plant in Tuticorin.

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On NSE, shares of the company dropped 6 per cent to Rs 253.75.

Opposition leaders including MK Stalin of the DMK have blamed the ruling AIADMK government for ignoring the protests for 100 days because it was peaceful. In a statement, he demanded an inquiry by a sitting high court judge, besides a compensation of Rs 1 crore for the families of each of those killed.

"Truth and reasoning have prevailed", said Fatima Babu, who had petitioned the court. The government committed a "Himalayan blunder" by handling the protest with "guns and teargas shells", he said, adding at least a minister accompanied by the district collector should have spoken to the agitators.

A day after over 11 people died during protests against Sterlite Industries, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) chief Vaiko on Wednesday visited the hospital and met people who were injured during a protest. "Police had to control the violence", the Tamil Nadu CM said. They were demanding permanent closure of the copper manufacturing company over pollution concerns.

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