Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam on Monday termed as tragic the police firing on anti-Sterlite protesters on May 22 and 23.
Speaking to reporters after visiting some of the injured at the Thoothukudi Government Medical College Hospital, he said the 47 victims undergoing treatment were in good health and were expecting a speedy recovery. Terming the violence and the subsequent police action as tragic, he recalled that the Sterlite unit was closed down following a Government Order in March 2013. The company challenged the order in the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and got a verdict in its favour to reopen the plant.
The State government had moved the Supreme Court, challenging the NGT’s order. However, Sterlite Copper had not been operational since April 9, 2018, as its plea seeking renewal of the ‘consent to operate’ was dismissed by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board. Now, people’s demand was to close down the unit, and the State government was acting accordingly, he said.
Following the May 22 incident, the Collector, along with Superintendent of Police Murali Rambha and two senior IAS officers (who are in the town as monitoring officers), acted swiftly to restore peace and normalcy, he said. The Deputy CM denied that the police were conducting house-to-house searches, and claimed that no arrest had been made from houses.
Mr. Panneerselvam was accompanied by Fisheries Minister D. Jayakumar and Collector Sandeep Nanduri as he met the victims and consoled their families. Later, he inspected the Collectorate, where several vehicles were torched during the protest rally. Information Minister Kadambur C. Raju accompanied them.