Tuticorin: At least nine people were killed on Tuesday and nine others critically injured after the Tamil Nadu Police opened fire as protests against Sterlite’s industrial plant intensified in Tuticorin.
Residents have been demanding the closure of the plant, citing that the pollution it generates is causing serious health issues. The agitation against Sterlite Copper, which represents the copper unit of Vedanta Limited, recently escalated after the company announced the expansion of its unit in the city.
Sterlite Copper, which currently operates a 400,000-tonne per annum unit in the city, maintains it has received necessary permits and has not violated any norms.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edapaddi K Palaniswami said nine people were killed in police action against anti-Sterlite protesters in Tuticorin and announced a judicial inquiry into the violence.
Detailing the events leading to the “unfortunate” deaths, he said the protesters took out a procession towards the collectorate defying prohibitory orders in the area.
They not only pelted policemen with stones but also set on fire their vehicles as well as those parked in the collectorate. They hurled stones at the collector’s office, he said in a statement.
“The police had to take action under unavoidable circumstances to protect public life and property as the protesters resorted to repeated violence. police had to control the violence,” Palaniswami, who holds the Home portfolio, said.
Palaniswami said he has ordered constitution of a one-man commission under a retired high court judge to go into the incident.
The chief minister also announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the families of each of those killed, Rs 3 lakh to those seriously injured, and Rs 1 lakh for people who suffered minor injuries. He also assured government jobs for one family member of each of those who lost their lives in accordance with their qualifications.
Nearly 5000 people demanding the closure of the Vedanta group-owned plant on Tuesday went on the rampage over pollution concerns, clashing with police and setting vehicles and public property on fire.