Tuticorin Sterlite Copper factory now non-operational, awaiting approval

At least nine people were killed in police firing in Tuticorin yesterday after protests for the closure of the plant over pollution concerns turned violent.

Local reports said the police resorted to firing in the town's Anna Nagar locality after protestors pelted stones at them, injuring a police official. Another man, identified by Indian media as a 23-year-old named Kaliappan, was killed in further protests on Wednesday.

It ordered authorities to hold a public hearing over Vedanta's application for environmental clearance and said a decision on environment approval would be completed within a period of four months.

Protesters have been alleging that the plant was polluting groundwater in their area. A bench comprising Justice M Sundar and Justice Anitha Sumanth passed the order staying construction of Vedanta's (formerly Sterlite Industries Limited) second unit in Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu, on a petition filed by environmental activist Fathima Babu.

Outrage over the police killings grew on Wednesday, and was fuelled by a video showing a plainclothes police officer boarding a bus and firing his rifle at protesters.

"Mass murder of innocent people", he tweeted on Wednesday.

Reports on how the police A clip on ANI shows local police with assault rifles to disperse protesters.

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Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday termed the death of protesters a "brutal example of state sponsored terrorism". PMK's Anbumani Ramadoss said, "What happened in Tuticorin is a cold-blooded murder by police". "The postmortem on the bodies is being conducted and they will be handed over to families today".

It was shut briefly after an alleged gas leak in March 2013 that left hundreds with breathing difficulties, nausea and throat infections.

Police said they opened fire to control the situation after the crowds defied curfew orders. Even after heavy police force was deployed in the region, protests and violence continued.

Sterlite released a statement expressing sorrow and regret over the deaths that took place during the protests.

Tamil Nadu is one of India's most prosperous and industrialised states but, as elsewhere in the country, environmental regulations are routinely breached and poorly policed.

Two policemen were also injured, doctors at the hospital said, adding that all injured were stable.


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