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8 dead, 30 others injured in Anti-Sterlite police firing

CHENNAI: Eight persons have been confirmed to have died in a police firing in retaliation to protests that turned violent near the Collector’s office in Tuticorin during a demonstration to mark the hundredth day of protests demanding closure of UK-based Vedanta Resources subsidiary Sterlite’s copper smelter in Tamil Nadu’s southern district. At least thirty others have been injured, N Venkatesh, District Collector, Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu told ET on the phone.
According to sources present at the protest, several thousands had gathered in a show of solidarity against the plant, which had been fined Rs 100 crore for environmental rehabilitation by the Supreme Court in April 2013. The current phase of protests are against a planned 400 ktpa brownfield expansion of the factory.
In a press release from the government, nearly 20,000 protesters had gathered for a rally towards the collector’s office. The release also said the protesters had set fire to police vehicles and pelted stones at the Collector’s office. “The Government of Amma will take all steps possible to resolve the problem at the Sterlite factory through legal means. The Government requests the people to hold their peace till such time.” The government press release did not make any mention of casualties.
Support has poured in for the current phase of protests from political quarters including a publicised visit by actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan, MDMK chief Vaiko, VCK chief Thol. Thirumavalavan, and others.
The Tamil Nadu fisheries Minister D Jayakumar told reporters that the government’s stance, as it was during the times of J Jayalalithaa, has been staunchly against the expansion of the factory. He said the government had expressed strong concerns against the plant’s expansion in an ongoing litigation at the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board Appellate Authority, which had adjourned the case to June 6.

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