Thousands join to protest against Sterlite plant in Thoothukudi

Thousands join to protest against Sterlite plant in Thoothukudi

Thousands join to protest against Sterlite plant  in Thoothukudi
In a groundswell of support for Kumareddiyarpuram villagers, thousands of people from all walks of life on Saturday night converged at the centre of Thoothukudi town and joined the agitation against expansion of Sterlite Copper Plant in the district.
 
The people, with conservatives putting their number between 15,000 to 20,000, joined the Kumareddiyarpuram villagers, who have been holding protests for the past two months against expansion of the plant, at Chidambara Nagar Bus Terminus and shouted slogans in favour of the protesters.
 
The villagers have vehemently opposed noxious gas leaks and bad effluent management for nearly 20 years and say that the expansion of the copper plant would further wreck their lives. They demand the expansion plans be abandoned and the entire plant be shut owing to environmental concerns.
 
The late-evening protests on Saturday were part of day-long shutdown in Thoothukudi called in favour of the protesters. The protests, according to eye-witness, had many resemblances to the Jallikattu agitation that rocked Tamil Nadu during 2017 Pongal.
 
The crowd that began to gather around 5 pm increased every hour and as darkness engulfed the town, people began flashing their mobile phones as a mark of protest against the expansion of Sterlite Copper Plant.
 
The protesters also cheered the speakers who spoke against the Sterlite plant and its expansion plans. The company shot into limelight when the Supreme Court in 2013 fined a whopping Rs 100 crore for polluting the area following a gas leak from the plant.
 
"I came to know of the protests through social media and I felt I should be on the ground supporting the people who are up in arms against the company. So, I came here to show my solidarity. We are not against development, but we also don't want people to die or suffer due to incidents like gas leak. The government should cancel the approval given for expansion," Sandhya, a working professional, said.
 
However, the Vedanta Group, which owns Sterlite Copper, said in a statement that the plant has received the necessary regulatory clearances for expansion and it will the development and well-being of all the communities around its operations will be ensured.
 
"Zero discharge systems, utilisation of waste for sustainable applications, energy efficient systems and stringent emission monitoring are the hallmark of Sterlite and these will only be strengthened through the expansion. The smelter plant is self-reliant in terms of power and water requirements and will not use any nearby natural resources," the statement further said.
 
Environmentalists contest the claims of the company saying expansion of the copper plant would further vitiate the atmosphere in and around the factory and would lead to endless problems for those residing near-by.
 
 
 
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