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Tamil Nadu state confirms it'll block Vedanta's Tuticorin re-opening

Published by MAC on 2018-09-24
Source: PTI (India) (2018-09-22)

Policy decision "in line with peoples' sentiments"

Following massive protests at Vedanta/Sterlite's highly polluting Tuticorin smelter operations earlier this year, the Tamil Nadu government appears to have succumbed to the will of the people.

Meanwhile, in just over a week's time, Vedanta expects to de-list from the London Stock Exchange, leaving just a private company behind to bear moral and legal responsibility for the many censorious acts it has committed since moving to the UK in 2002.

Sterlite plant would not be re-opened: Tamil Nadu government

Press Trust India

22 September 2018

CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu government on Saturday asserted that the Sterlite
Industries' plant in Tuticorin would not be re-opened as its policy
decision to seal the Vedanta Ltd unit was in line with people's
sentiments.

This comes on a day when a three-member panel appointed by the National
Green Tribunal (NGT) and led by former Meghalaya high court chief justice
Tarun Agrawal, is slated to visit the copper smelter plant in the southern
district.

"Our stand is that once it is closed, it is closed. A policy decision was
taken by the government and based on that the plant was sealed.They
(Vedanta) have moved the NGT against the sealing and a panel was formed.
We have moved the Supreme Court saying not even that panel is required,"
fisheries minister D Jayakumar told reporters here.

Jayakumar said the local people were against the plant, and therefore the
government took a decision to seal it "in line with the sentiments of the
people of Tuticorin."

"Once closed, it is closed. There is no chance of re-opening it by the
government," he asserted.

The Tamil Nadu government had ordered permanent closure of the copper
smelter plant on environment grounds in the wake of protests by locals.

The locals held protests demanding the closure of the Sterlite factory for
99 days and the agitation turned violent on May 22 on its 100th day
leading to 13 agitators being killed in police firing.

The state government had on last Tuesday urged the Central Pollution
Control Board (CPCB) to postpone today's visit of the expert committee to
the closed Sterlite Industries, citing pendency of its appeal in the SC
against the NGT order setting up the panel.

In its communication to CPCB, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board
(TNPCB) referred to pending cases in the Supreme Court against the NGT
order on setting up the panel.

Earlier, the state government had also rejected the Centre's report on
groundwater contamination in Tuticorin in the backdrop of the Sterlite
controversy, saying it was "absolutely vague" and seemed to support the
Vedanta unit which was "totally unwarranted."

It had said the state "strongly feels that the report is motivated and has
been prepared only to prejudice the Tamil Nadu government and the TNPCB
cases in various judicial fora."

To a query, Jayakumar rejected archrival DMK's contention that the ruling
AIADMK's September 25 protest against Congress and DMK on the Sri Lankan
Tamils issue was a bid to divert attention from corruption charges faced
by the ruling dispensation.

The AIADMK has announced state-wide public meetings on September 25
seeking 'trial' of DMK and Congress for "war crimes" against Tamils in the
2009 Sri Lankan civil conflict.

Jayakumar said the meetings were not an attempt at diverting attention
from anything "as we have nothing to hide."

"Certain truths have to be told to the people at the right time," he said.

The old political issue has been revived by the AIADMK in the backdrop of
the recent remarks of former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa that
the Indian government helped his country during the final war against the
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2009.


Rajapaksa was at the helm when the nearly 30 year-old ethnic strife in Sri
Lanka ended in 2009 with the defeat of the LTTE while the DMK was part of
the Congress-led UPA that ruled India then.


The AIADMK had on September 19 adopted a resolution at a meeting here
alleging DMK and Congress were responsible for the killings of thousands
of Tamils during the war.


"Now that Rajapaksa has openly admitted to all secrets, the DMK-Congress
coalition government aiding the killings of 1.5 lakh Tamils and rapes of
thousands of Tamil women should be treated as war crimes and those
involved should be made war criminals and given punishment," it had said.


Jayakumar sought to know why the DMK had not warned Congress of
withdrawing support seeking ceasefire then, and said had this been done,
"the 1.5 lakh lives would have been saved."

 

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