MDMK general secretary Vaiko on Saturday appealed to the people of Tuticorin to extend support to a general strike called by anti-Sterlite protesters on Monday to shut down Sterlite’s copper plant in Tuticorin permanently.

In a statement issued by him, the struggle committee under the banner ‘Anti Sterlite Protesters’ exhorted the driver associations of auto rickshaws, vans, cars and lorries to join the strike and these vehicles were expected to remain off the roads during the general strike.

Besides, 60 associations and various public interest based movements including Tuticorin Town Merchants Association, Traders association, fishermen association, farmers association, labourers association and students’ forum are expected to participate in the strike.

Following the emission of sulphur dioxide from the Sterlite Copper in the early hours on March 23, people suffered suffocation, sneezing and burning sensation in eyes and hence the Struggle Committee felt that any dangerous situation like Bhopal gas tragedy should not arise in Tuticorin. The Tuticorin populace were battling for survival every day as they get exposed to pollution from Sterlite and their lifespan would be reduced. Initially, the Sterlite company stepped into Maharashtra and owing to farmers’ aversion to its functioning, that government cancelled its licence and after reluctance to its establishment in Gujarat and Goa, the company found its base in the southern region of Tamil Nadu.

To safeguard people from the harmful effects of pollution and to shut down Sterlite, a massive demonstration was staged here on March 28 and many were arrested while attempting to besiege the company.

Bowing to people’s emotions, State government ordered the closure of Sterlite on March 30.

Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board has authority to close Sterlite and it is no way connected to the Supreme Court’s verdict on April 2, Mr. Vaiko said. Citing a report on ill-effects of pollution from Sterlite by environmental scientist Mark Chernaik, he said it stood as a vital testimony of credential of baneful effects on human and cattle surrounding the plant.

Based on samples concerning sand, solid waste and water that were collected and dispatched to the scientist, the factual report was produced.

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