Chennai: In the wake of anti-Sterlite protests in Thoothukudi, State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu on Tuesday cancelled the land it had allotted to Vedanta Sterlite for phase two in Tuticorin. The move comes a day after the state government had ordered to shut down the copper plant permanently.
“There have been a series of agitations and protest against the establishment of Copper Smelter Plant (Phase II) by M/s Vedanta Limited at SIPCOT industrial complex in Tuticorin, expressing concerns about the pollution caused by the existing Copper Smelter plant of M/s Vedanta Limited. The people of the area have been raising concern about their health on account of the operation of the plant,” the order issued by SIPCOT managing director K Srinivasan said.
The order added that the land allotment for proposed expansion of Copper Smelter Plant (phase II) is cancelled in “larger public interest”, and the land price collected for allotment will be refunded as per norms of SIPCOT.
A day earlier, Tamil Nadu chief minister EK Palaniswami had announced that a government order has been issued, directing the state pollution control board to seal Vedanta group's copper plant in Thoothukudi, and close it down "permanently" following last week's violent protests during which 13 people were killed in police firing.
The Government Order (GO) said it endorsed the recent closure direction of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, and also asked the TNPCB to "seal the unit and close the plant permanently".
The document cited the Constitution's directive principles of state policy (Article 48-A) enjoining protection of environment and provisions of the Water Act, 1974, to order the permanent closure of the copper factory "in the larger public interest".
The chief minister said the government has issued the order in deference to the sentiments of the people. "This government follows the footsteps of Amma (late chief minister Jayalalithaa). This government is for the people," he said.
The locals were protesting for the closure of the factory for 99 days. Protesters turned violent on May 22, the 100th day of their stir, and 13 people were killed in police action against them last Tuesday and Wednesday.
The move is being seen as a damage control move as the AIADMK government had come under fire from opposition parties, activists and human rights bodies over the police action.