Published: 22nd May 2021
#ThrowbackToday: The brutality of the Thoothukudi police firing that took place on May 22, 2018
In today's #TBT, we talk about the Sterlite Copper plant of Vedanta at Thoothukudi. Not because it is now producing oxygen for the state, but because of the past protests which turned very violent
The Sterlite Copper plant of Vedanta is in the news again today. But first, the flashback.
At Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu, on May 22, 2018, nine protestors were killed by the police in an open firing. For three gruelling months, protestors had been demonstrating for the closure of the plant alleging that it was not only affecting fisheries but it was also a huge source of pollution in the area. Many environmentalists were also of the same opinion.
On that particular day, barring black flags, the protestors angrily marched towards the district government headquarters and the apartment of Vedanta employees and there was some vehicle-burning as well. Things turned violent pretty soon and before anyone knew it, the police was open firing. This step of the police has been condemned even at the international level. But, the quiet port city was not quiet anymore. Actually, the truth is, since 1999, protests have been going on and have slowly gained momentum.
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And here we are. The same plant has started producing oxygen amidst the shortage spurned by the pandemic with the Supreme Court dubbing it as 'national need'. It started by producing 35MT liquid oxygen and will go on to fulfill the needs of seven to eight districts of the state. A point to note is that local activists have been allowed to review the functioning of the plant.