Anti-Sterlite protesters staged a fast here on Monday demanding the permanent closure of Sterlite Copper in Tuticorin. Rev. Fr. Yvon Ambrose, Bishop of Tuticorin Diocese, launched the protest.
While addressing the protesters, S. Joel, district secretary, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, said Sterlite was a serious threat and the people of Tuticorin have been bearing the brunt of its ill effects. He said the government officials should take steps to monitor and control pollution.
A series of protests have been launched after emission of sulphur dioxide from Sterlite in the early hours on March 23, when the protesters claimed people were affected by it. He said that besides causing threat to survival of people, the livelihood of farmers and fishermen had been affected owing to pollution from the company. He appealed to the State government not to allow the company to resume its operations.
The fast began at 9 a.m. ended at 5 p.m. U. Natarajan, general secretary, Tuticorin Town Centralized Merchants Association, Fathima Babu, Coordinator, Veeranganai Amaippu, K.S. Arjunan, district secretary, CPI (M), A. Mohan Raj, district secretary, CPI and others took part.
In the wake of the emission earlier, the district administration sought explanations and reply within five days after invoking Section 133 of Cr. P.C. through Tuticorin Revenue Divisional Officer on March 24. Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board on March 29 ordered closure. Power lines were disconnected based on the order and production suspended from there on.
A large number of people led by Vaiko, general secretary of MDMK, courted arrest while attempting to lay siege to Tuticorin collectorate here on March 25 demanding the permanent closure of Sterlite Copper plant.
Just a few days later, the protesters including Mr. Vaiko and R. Nallakannu, a senior leader of CPI, Vellaiyan, Traders Association president staged a demonstration opposite Rajaji Park on Palayamkottai road here on March 28 to press ahead with a similar demand and many were arrested while attempting to besiege the company subsequently.
The protesters also organized a strike in Tuticorin on April 8 when many shops in town were closed and auto rickshaws and mini buses remained off the roads.
The National Green Tribunal, southern bench, Chennai, has constituted an expert committee to inspect the Sterlite factory and submit a report.