Sterlite plant should never be reopened: Medha Patkar


The state government should not promote Sterlite Copper Plant in Thoothukudi or allow it to come back, said social activist Medha Patkar here on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters, she said the functioning of corporate houses such as the Vedanta was to kill the lives, pollute the air and water, exploit Dalits and other downtrodden in the society. When the Sterlite wanted to step in to Maharashtra and Gujarat, they were not let in.

Faulting the CBI’s investigation into the police firing on the anti-Sterlite Movement members that claimed 13 lives in 2018, Ms Patkar said instead of pulling up the police officers for unleashing violence, the agency had named some public (in its report).

“When the protests were conducted in a peaceful manner for 99 days without any problem in Thoothukudi district in 2018, why did the police open fire on 100th day against the protesters,” she asked and demanded an answer from the investigators.

Condemning the police for “their arrogance,” which claimed the lives of innocent people including a young girl Snowlin and a student Karthikeyan, Ms Medha Patkar said the people, who were part of the protests, were unarmed. In such a situation, opening fire was the highest form of cruelty against the innocent people.

Though the government may have given compensation, the lives are not going to come back. The injured too were given tall promises but jobs were not given.

The social activist said that the people do not want such polluting industries around them, which threatened and destroyed natural resources. Thoothukudi, which was known as a Pearl City, had lost its sheen.

“We have to restore them. It will be possible only when such industries (Sterlite) are not here. This kind of development brings in destruction and disease,” she said.

Recalling a Supreme Court directive, Ms. Patkar said a gram sabha resolution in a rural local body in Maharashtra had sealed the proposal of Sterlite company from entering the State. In Thoothukudi, they had produced oxygen in their closed plant during COVID-19 period and attempted to create credibility, which they had lost, she said.

According to her, Pollution Control Boards were “Politically Controlled Boards” and thus NGOs and activists had a tough time in fighting the company raj. She appealed to the M. K. Stalin government to come out with a policy that pollution emitting units such as the Sterlite Copper Plant would not be given permission in Tamil Nadu.

The May 17 Movement coordinator Thirumurugan Gandhi said the CBI should show their skills by naming the police officers responsible for ordering the firing in the charge sheet. They (police) should be taken to task and the not the people (protesters) as it was unjust and awful.

Activists in Thoothukudi district had organised a meeting to mark the fourth death anniversary of death of people in the police firing. The speakers took a pledge to fight against the polluting firms in a democratic manner and expressed the hope that the government would stand by them in their struggle.

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Printable version | May 24, 2022 6:46:28 pm |