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Story behind anti Sterlite agitation in Tamil Nadu

Story behind anti-Sterlite agitation in Tamil Nadu

Story behind anti-Sterlite agitation in Tamil Nadu
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By CNBC-TV18 May 28, 2018 4:23:58 PM IST (Updated)

The order comes a day after the protest against Vedanta’s Sterlite copper smelting plant in Thoothukudi turned violent leading to many deaths.

The Madras High Court’s Madurai bench on Wednesday has stayed the construction of new copper smelter plant at Sterlite’s Thoothukudi unit.

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The order comes a day after the protest against Vedanta’s Sterlite copper smelting plant at Thoothukudi District turned violent  leading to many deaths.
The protests that led to the death of scores of protestors began as a peaceful agitation by locales over three months ago.
The Origin of the Problem
The crux of the problem lies with the Sterlite copper smelting plant of Vedanta group that is operating at Thoothukudi District for decades.
Set up as one of the largest copper plants in the country, the plant was set up even before the establishment and listing of its mother company, the Vedanta Resources.
However, problems started to emerge after the local population turned against the company.  People alleged that the company was causing severe pollution in the surrounding areas, making them uninhabitable. The increasing number of health issues faced by the people further aggravated the opposition.
The entry of Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board
After opposition started to emerge regarding the operations of the plant, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB)  filed an affidavit regarding the issue.
According to New Indian Express reportregion experienced more cases of respiratory diseases in comparison with other areas of the state. Further, it gave examples of the presence of rusty-red water in taps due to increased iron content in groundwater.
Allegations were also raised regarding the impact of arsenic laced waste water and hazardous waste from the company had on surrounding areas and health issues particularly among women.
The TNPCB recently also issued an order turning down Sterlite’s application to renew its consent to operate.
The revelation further infuriated the local population to start agitation in March. The news that the company was on its way to double its capacity and alleged disinterest from the part of authorities, added oil to the fire.
However, not all are in support of closing the plant. A section of people, particularly those working at nearby port and in transportation business, have reportedly opposed the closure as it could impact livelihood of thousands of people.
The company too has claimed that the conclusions by the pollution control board was made without employing scientific tools.
However, the record of the Vedanta group in the matter of pollution has been not great. A similar plant by the firm in Zambia too is facing similar opposition by locales, while the Thoothukudi plant itself was shut briefly in 2013 after a gas leak.
Read our extensive coverage on Sterlite Tuticorin protests here.
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