Tamil Nadu Appoints Former Judge To Head Inquiry On Tuticorin Violence

Lucy Bush
May 23, 2018

Ongoing protests demanding closure of the Sterlite plant showed no signs of abating, despite calls for calm by the Tamil Nadu government.

The Madras High Court told authorities to hold a "mandatory" public hearing over Vedanta's application for environmental clearance and said a decision on environmental approval would be looked into by "appropriate authorities".

As the toll in the violence following the anti-Sterlite protests rose to 11 on Wednesday, the Home Ministry also sought a report from the Tamil Nadu government over the incident.

Chennai: Actor-turned-politician Rajinikanth on Wednesday condemned the Tamil Nadu's government's "careless attitude" and "unlawful police firing" at the anti-Sterlite Copper Smelting plant protesters in Thoothukudi. Aruna was part of the bench that gave a clean chit to the police in February 2015, for alleged fake encounters in Velachery that killed five men suspected of bank robbery. Environmental activists say the cooper plant is polluting local water resources, allegations the company denied as "false propaganda".

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The plant, one of India's biggest, has been shut for more than 50 days and will remain closed until at least June 6 because the local pollution regulator has said the facility is not complying with environmental rules.

"Truth and reasoning have prevailed", said Fatima Babu, who had petitioned the court.

Witnesses said demonstrators set fire to a police bus Wednesday and ransacked a liquor shop.

Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami ordered a judicial inquiry into Tuesday's shootings but defended the police response. PMK's Anbumani Ramadoss said, "What happened in Tuticorin is a cold-blooded murder by police".

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"I was grieved to know nine persons were unfortunately killed in this incident", he said, expressing his sympathies and condolences for the families of those killed. They hurled stones at the collector's office, he said in a statement.

Vedanta shares were down 7.3 percent in London trading as of 1300 GMT.

"Copper contributes nearly 7-8 percent to the consolidated operating profit and as much as 30 rupees to the share price, therefore it definitely hurts the company's numbers", said Goutam Chakraborty, analyst with Emkay Global. The plan entails to doubling of the capacity of its copper smelter to 800,000 tonnes per year.

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