MAC: Mines and Communities

Tuticorin: a byword for infamy

Published by MAC on 2019-01-02
Source: Scroll.In, NDTV

The infamous May 2018  killings at Tuticorin (Thootukudi) in India - when thirteen defenceless people were shot dead by police during protests against Vedanta's massive copper smelter pollution -  have been succeeded by a number of extraordinary events.

The state government responded to citizens' outrage by ordering closure of the offending plant [See: Sterlite copper plant officially polluting]

Then, the country's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) charged local police and officials with several offences of complicity in the early summer murders.

This came only a day after a National Green Tribunal (NGT) commitee spuriously declared that the plant's closure flew in the face of "natural justice" (sic).

However, the Madras High Court late last month put the NGT's  decision on hold - at least until January 21 this year when an activist's  petition against re-opening the plant will heard.




Thoothukudi killings: CBI registers case against police and revenue
department officials

Thirteen anti-Sterlite protestors were gunned down by the police in
Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu, on May 22


29 November 2018

The Central Bureau of Investigation on Thursday registered a case against
unidentified Tamil Nadu Police personnel and revenue department officials
for the death of 13 people in police firing during anti-Sterlite protests
in Thoothukudi on May 22. The agency started its investigations in

The CBI has charged the accused with, among other offences, criminal
conspiracy, disobeying law with the intent to cause injury to people and
criminal intimidation. The CBI has not named any police or revenue
official in the FIR despite video evidence and complaints submitted to the
agency naming a few officials.

On October 8, the investigation agency had filed a first information
report against an unspecified number of persons from 20 organisations on
charges that included rioting and voluntarily causing hurt with dangerous

The document reproduced the contents of an earlier first information
report filed at the SIPCOT police station in Thoothukudi on May 22, and
was re-registered in August on the order of the Madurai bench of the
Madras High Court.

In its order on August 14, the High Court had said it “fail[ed] to
understand how not a single case, not even invoking Section 174 CrPC has
been registered at the instance of the injured or family members of the
deceased”. The court had said that an investigation in the case cannot be

The violence on May 22 followed two decades of protests by Thoothukudi’s
residents and activists who claimed the smelter operated by Sterlite, a
unit of the mining and metals major Vedanta, was a health hazard. The day
after the police firing, the state government permanently shut down the

The CBI action on Thursday came a day after environmental activists
expressed disappointment with a National Green Tribunal-appointed
committee’s conclusion that the state government’s decision to shut down
the smelter on May 28 was illegal, improper and “in violation of natural

 Setback For Sterlite Plant In Tuticorin, High Court Says Can't Reopen Just Yet

The Tamil Nadu government had shut down the Vedanta Sterlite copper smelting plant citing violations and health hazards.

J Sam Daniel Stalin


21 December 2018

In a major setback to the Vedanta Group that owns the Sterlite copper smelting plant in Tuticorin, the Madras High Court has ordered staus quo, putting on hold the recent relief granted by the National Green Tribunal permitting reopening of the plant. The case would be heard again on January 21 and Sterlite cannot attempt to reopen the factory. The court also directed the government to respond if it would appeal against the green court (NGT) order or not.

This order has come on a petition filed by environmentalist Fathim Babu who had cited pending cases against Sterlite over violations and alleged leak of the NGT's order on a website of group close to Sterlite group. She also raised the issue of the NGT denying her an opportunity to be heard as an intervenor and that the verdict was not delivered in the open court and there was no mention of it even in the cause-list, violating the Supreme Court's order.

Henry Tiphagne, Executive Director of People's Watch, says, “The orders were uploaded on the NGT website at 2 PM but the same was uploaded on the site of Sterlite's ad and PR agency as early as 7:39 AM. This raises serious questions. We presented clear evidence for this violation.”

Initially, the petition was posted only to decide its maintainability, taking into account that appeals against NGT orders normally go to the Supreme Court. However, this morning the court admitted and heard it after the petitioner raised questions of trust and faith over institutions of justice citing Advocate Vaigai, the counsel for the petitioner.

The Tamil Nadu government had shut down the plant citing violations and health hazard after 13 people died in police firing in May when more than a lakh people gathered demanding permanent closure of the plant.

Sterlite has all along denied these allegations. Only yesterday it had announced a 100 crore package for educational, health and community development initiatives including a smart school and hospital. The Tamil Nadu government too has decided to appeal against the NGT order.


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