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Tamil Nadu Protests: Sterlite Copper Hits 32,500 Jobs After Tuticorin Plant Shutdown

Due to protests in Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu, the shutdown of the Sterlite Copper Plant has affected 32,500 jobs. Among them, there has been direct impact on the livelihood of 3,500 people, while 30 to 40 thousand jobs have been indirectly impacted.

The protests claimed 12 lives while twenty-four others were injured. Sterlite Copper Plant has 2,500 employees contract workers, which the company has issued notices mentioning the force majeure provision of the contract. At least 30,000 indirect employees have become unemployed due to the closure of the factory, which were indirectly connected to the factory through suppliers, logistics, transport, and copper wire units and other activities.

While the Sterlite issue has been running for more than two decades, the situation has become very serious now, in which 12 people have claimed dead in the last 48 hours and hundreds have been injured. The protesters want to close the Sterlite Copper Smelter Plant because they fear that it is dangerous. Surprisingly, the state government and opposition are on the same page.

There is a crisis of livelihood in front of these unemployed people till the plant is closed. The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board has refused to renew the license of the plant, since the Board has mentioned violation of three main provisions since April. The Board found that Sterlite breached the environmental regulations while drain the clinker in rivers. Also, the plant has not given the report to the board about the water from the tube well near the plant.

They say that one of the main reasons for the situation is that the rule in Tamil Nadu is not democratic. It is not only ministers, even bureaucracy and government machinery does not respond to people’s issues on time, that is why they are forced to protest.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said, “I’m deeply pained the loss of lives during the agitation in Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu…MHA has taken cognisance of the incident and sought a report from the state govt.”

Agitators in Tuticorin, nearly 600 km from Chennai, clashed with police protesting the proposed expansion of a copper smelter of Sterlite Copper, a unit of the Vedanta group, over pollution concerns

Residents have been protesting for the immediate closure of the unit since February this year. They allege that the pollution generated by the unit has contaminated the water bodies in the region, claiming that they are facing severe health problems. Environmental activists have also expressed concern since copper smelting leads to various kinds of pollution and they must be located far away from the residential areas.

Internet services in Tuticorin and adjoining districts of Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari have been suspended till May 27 to prevent spread of rumours through social media.

Due to ongoing protests in Tuticorin, the Department of Telecommunication has received instructions from the Chief Secretary to ban data services in three districts of Tamil Nadu – Thoothukudi, Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari districts.


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