Tuticorin: A day after more eleven people lost their lives in police firing on anti-Sterlite plant agitators, Vedanta Ltd on Wednesday urged the government to ensure safety and security of employees at its copper smelter facility in Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu. They also expressed "regret and sorrow" over incidents of people being killed during protests. The Thootukudi copper smelter at Tuticorin is run by Vedanta Ltd's Sterlite Copper unit.
Locals have been agitating for over 100 days now demanding the closure of the Vedanta group copper plant over pollution concerns. The Tamil Nadu government has constituted an inquiry commission to look into the matter. The Commission of Inquiry, headed by Aruna Jagadeesan a retired judge of the Madras High Court, will probe the violence. A man was killed in fresh police firing on anti-Sterlite plant agitators on Wednesday taking the toll to twelve.
"It is with great sorrow and regret that we witnessed yesterday's (Tuesday) incidents around the protest at Tuticorin. The company has appealed to the government and authorities to ensure the safety of our employees, facilities and the surrounding community," Vedanta Ltd said in a regulatory filing to the BSE. The Sterlite Copper plant is currently non-operational as the company awaits approval for the Consent to Operate, it added.
Meanwhile, a bench comprising Justice M Sundar and Justice Anitha Sumanth of the Madras HC stayed the expansion of the second unit of the plant, based on a petition filed by Fathima Babu, an environmental activist. The bench also directed the central government to submit within four months a report after holding a public hearing in the district to invite public opinion on the plan for expansion, PTI reported.
Sterlite had got consent to expand the second unit, as the existing one has remained shut for nearly two months after the Tamil Nadu pollution control board refused to renew its consent to operate (CTO) the unit.
(With Agency inputs)