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Sterlite Copper to be ‘permanently’ closed: Events leading to ‘closure’ of Vedanta unit in Tuticorin

Tamil Nadu Deputy CM O Panneerselvam on Monday announced the government will take resolute steps to permanently shut down Vedanta groups copper plant in Tuticorin. He said Ammas government will take all necessary steps to ensure the permanent closure of the plant. Today, the main demand of people is that the copper plant should be permanently closed. In keeping with their demand, it is shut now. I would like to make it clear that Sterlite plant will be permanently shut, Paneerselvam said. Later in the day, the Tamil Nadu government issued an order for the permanent closure of the plant. Earlier, on May 22, protest against Vedantas copper smelter turned violent with agitators pelting stones and attacking police vehicles. In retaliation, police opened fire, leading to the death of 13 people. A day after the protest, the Madras High Court imposed section 144 in Tuticorin and passed an interim order on a public interest litigation (PIL), putting a stay on the expansion of Sterlite Industries. The PIL demanded the cancellation of environmental clearance of the plant and stated the company had obtained it without conducting a public hearing as prescribed by the Environmental Impact Assessment notification. The state government on May 24 constituted a Commission of Inquiry chaired by retired Madras High Court judge Aruna Jagadeesan to investigate into the violence. Meanwhile, the Union Home Ministry asked for a report from Tamil Nadu government on the circumstances that led to police firing on protesters. On May 25, MK Stalin-led DMK along with other opposition parties called for a dawn-to-dusk bandh to condemn police action against the demonstrators. Notably, the company claims the plant has been shut for its annual maintenance since the last week of March, according to PTI. Congress President Rahul Gandhi tweeted in Tamil sympathising with the victims and attacking PM Narendra Modi and RSS. Tamils are being killed since they refuse to bow to the ideology of the RSS. The feelings of the Tamil people can never be trampled by the bullets of the RSS and Modi. We are with you Tamil brothers and sisters #SterliteProtest, he tweeted. The Supreme Court on Monday refused to urgently hear a plea seeking direction to Tamil Nadu government to file a status report on its efforts to control arsenic and cadmium pollution in the ground water around the Sterlite Coppers smelting plant at Tuticorin. Last week, a petition was filed in the apex court by an advocate GS Mani who sought a court-monitored CBI investigation into the deaths of protesters during the anti-Sterlite protests in Tamil Nadu. The plea also sought registration of an FIR for the alleged offence of murder against Tuticorin Collector, Superintendent of Police and other police officials. The petition termed the compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the families of the deceased as inadequate. It sought compensation of Rs 50 lakh to the families of those killed and Rs 25 lakh to those seriously injured in police firing.