At least 13 persons were killed and hundreds injured last Tuesday when police fired on people protesting against the Vedanta Group-run Sterlite Industries plant for allegedly polluting the area.
Residents of the port city of Thootukudi, located at the tip of the Indian subcontinent, and environmentalists have been demonstrating for more than three months against the copper plant, one of India's biggest, alleging that it is a major source of pollution and a risk to fisheries. Protestors set fire a local administrator's office and burned more than 110 vehicles, according to police, who responded with batons and tear gas before firing on the crowd.
No 72 dated May 28 said it was brought to the notice of the government that the TNPCB did not renew the consent to operate to MS Vedanta Limite, Copper Smelter Plant, SIPCOT Industrial Complex, Thoothukudi in its order dated April 9, 2018. Another man, identified by Indian media as a 23-year-old named Kaliappan, was killed in further protests on Wednesday.
M.K. Stalin, leader of the main Tamil Nadu opposition party the DMK, said police were guilty of "atrocities".
The state's chief minister has ordered a judicial inquiry into the shootings but the move failed to stem rising anger over the clashes, which also left about 80 wounded.
Describing the deaths of 13 people in the police firing as an "incident of grief which melted the hearts of everyone", Panneerselvam had expressed his condolences to the kin of the dead and had wished the injured a speedy recovery.
"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", he said in a statement.
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The company on Monday called the closure of the plant it has operated for over 22 years an "unfortunate development".
Vedanta Resources' stock was down about 12% at 1755 IST on the London Stock Exchange.
The residents of Thoothukudi have been demanding the closure of the Sterlite Copper Smelter for the past 100 days and had made a decision to take out a march before the Tuticorin District Collectorate on Tuesday.
Additionally, the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court has also stayed the doubling of Sterlite Copper's capacity from 4 lakh tonnes to 8 lakh tonnes at Tuticorin. The company has appealed to government and authorities to ensure safety of our employees, facilities, and surrounding communities.
The plant has been shut for over 50 days following protests by local people who allege that water was contaminated by emission from the plant.
Several cases have been filed against the plant since it started in 1996, and India's top court in 2013 fined it about $18 million for breaking environmental laws.