Sterlite Copper, a unit of Vedanta Limited, operates a 400,000-tonne per annum capacity plant in Tuticorin.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday registered a case against Tamil Nadu police and revenue department for firing at anti-Sterlite protestors, who were demanding a ban on Sterlite Industries, in the wake of concerns of pollution in Tamil Nadu’s Tuticorin. They alleged that the pollution caused by the unit has contaminated the water bodies in the region, claiming that they are facing severe health problems. The CBI has registered a fresh case of criminal conspiracy, robbery, dacoity and disobeying law to cause injury.
According to news agency PTI, this is the second case pertaining to the incident. The fresh FIR has been registered under IPC sections related to criminal conspiracy, public servants disobeying law with intent to cause injury to any person, framing incorrect document to cause injury, robbery, dacoity, criminal intimidation and acts done in furtherance of common intention. The case has been registered against unidentified officials of police and revenue department on the basis of a complaint from K Arjunan, District Secretary, CPI-M.
However, a petition was already filed in the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court seeking closure of the plant. The judgement was awaited as the court had finished the hearing on May 17. A fresh protest began in February and on May 22, the 100th day of the agitation, the protests turned violent.
The agitation which was going on for over three months to demand the closure of Vedanta’s Sterlite Copper unit in Tuticorin intensified, leading to agitators fighting a pitched battles with police. A total of 13 people were killed in police firing.
Various political figures have raised concerns over the violence and have condemned the situation. While DMK working president M K had termed the incidents as ‘police atrocities,.Congress President Rahul Gandhi termed the agitation as ‘a brutal example of state-sponsored terrorism’.
In August, Madras High Court ordered the CBI to probe the firing and directed to file a report in four months.
The Tamil Nadu government also ordered permanent closure of the plant on environmental grounds, and officials were asked to physically seal the smelter, saying it was listening to residents’ complaints.
Sterlite Copper, a unit of Vedanta Limited, operates a 400,000-tonne per annum capacity plant in Tuticorin. The plant was commissioned in 1997. In 2013, a gas leak led to the death of one person and injured several others. Following a gas leak, the then chief minister the late J Jayalalithaa ordered its closure. However, the company moved to the National Green Tribunal. The NGT overturned the government order leading the state moved to the Supreme Court against it, and the petition was still pending there.
Tamil Nadu government had announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the families of each of those killed, Rs 3 lakh to those seriously injured, and Rs 1 lakh for people who suffered minor injuries.