Many shops remained closed on Monday in response to a general strike called by anti-Sterlite protesters demanding permanent closure of the Sterlite copper smelter unit here.

Several autorickshaws, taxis and mini-buses were off the roads and fishing activities came to a grinding halt. However, many shops in and around the Tuticorin new bus station functioned as usual.

Vaiko, MDMK general secretary, called the strike a success and attributed it to the people’s might.

In a statement, Mr. Vaiko said cutting across political lines, caste, creed and religious barriers, people joined together to wage a battle against Sterlite. Only the might of the people could bring justice and the Tuticorin people had proved it, he said.

U. Natarajan, general secretary, Tuticorin Town Centralized Merchant Association, said the traders responded well and he thanked them for their support. The people showed their opposition to the maximum extent against Sterlite.

Police sources said 11,600 out of 14,500 shops remained closed in Tuticorin city, 450 out of 800 autorickshaws stayed off the roads, and 140 taxis out of 200 did not ply. Besides, 43 mini-bus services were not operated.

Demanding resumption of operations in Sterlite, a contractor said the livelihood of 2,500 contract labourers would be adversely affected if the closure of Sterlite was prolonged.

Of the total contract labourers, 75 per cent of them were from the local populace. They solely depended on Sterlite for their livelihood. Moreover, many ancillary industries with sufficient workforce were also dependent on Sterlite.

Hence, the State government should act in the interest of these labourers.

S. Dhanalakshmi, director, Thulasi Social Trust, Tuticorin, said around 1.5 lakh people had been enjoying the benefits of community welfare programmes launched by Sterlite every year and a large number of self-help group members were depending on Sterlite to eke out their living.

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