Anti-Sterlite protest: Tamil Nadu CM Palaniswami defends firing as an instinctive self-defence act

Chennai: Even as the toll in the police firing against anti-Sterlite protesters rose to 13 on Thursday, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board ordered immediate closure of Sterlite Copper, a Vedanta group company in the port town of Thoothukudi. The agency also disconnected electricity supply to the plant early in the morning.

Separately, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami made it clear that the State Government was against the operation of the plant and would take all steps legally to ensure its permanent closure. He however defended the police firing saying it was a natural instinctive act of self-defence as the protest had turned violent. The State did not anticipate the violent turn of events as the protest was peaceful in the preceding 99 days.

The TNPCB, in its closure orders, said the power supply was disconnected at 5.15 am as inspections conducted by its officials on May 18 and 19 revealed that the plant was carrying out activities to “resume its production operations” violating an earlier order for suspension. Reacting to this, Vedanta in a statement said, that the plant in question was not operating since March 27, 2018. “We continue to work with the regulatory authorities, at all time ensuring compliance with the necessary regulations.”

Earlier Opposition leader and DMK working president along with leaders of friendly parties staged a protest outside the Chief Minister’s chamber in the Secretariat demanding an appointment with him. Stalin was later physically carried out of the Secretariat and detained till evening. The Chief Minister accused him of politicising the issue and said Stalin had not sought any appointment with him.

According to the Chief Minister, the government was taking all steps to close down Sterlite and even Jayalalithaa had in 2011 taken measures to shut down the plant. He said the government was respecting the sentiments of the local people and had held talks with them 14 times in the last five months.

Meanwhile, the Government’s decision to suspend Internet in the districts of Thoothukudi, Tirunelveli and Kanniyakumari to prevent the spread of falsehood on social media, has caused deep impact on the student community. Application for the Tamil Nadu Engineering Admissions also need to be made online from this year. The Anna University has put off its semester examination for engineering college students across the State in view of the disruption in Thoothukudi.


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