Chennai: After two days of intense violence that killed 13 in Tuticorin, the under-construction copper plant of Sterlite Industries faces a dismal future with Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board directing District Collector of Thoothukudi to snap power connections to the site.
The direction comes a day after a Madurai bench of Madras High Court issued a stay order any construction here.
Locals have been protesting against the construction of the plant for three months and have blamed it for rising pollution in the area. Their protest turned violent when, according to police, 5000 gathered on Tuesday to march towards the construction site. To restore order, police fired tear gas and live rounds from assault rifles which drew sharp criticism from across the country. While 67 people have so far been arrested for indulging in violence, the heat is on local police force and the state government.
Thursday's directive from the state's pollution control board may be seen as yet another victory for protestors - especially as the Board, according to news agency ANI, found that activities were still be carried out at the site despite court orders prohibiting it until the unit's license to operate was renewed.
The ground situation, therefore, remains tense.
Internet services in Thoothukudi were suspended at 2100 hours on Wednesday. The local administration has said that services will remain shut for five days.
Meanwhile, politicians have been making a beeline to visit the injured in local hospitals. Kamal Haasan, Vaiko and MK Stalin are some of the key figures to have come down hard on the state government for failing to handle the situation. Stalin's DMK has called for a statewide shutdown for Friday and has also demanded a permanent closure of the controversial plant.
CM Edappadi Palaniswami, who has already announced a compensation for the victims, also faces heat from the Centre with the Home Ministry seeking a detailed report on the incident.