Skip to main content

Tamil Nadu: 15 workers' death due to hazardous working conditions at Sterlite preceded 11 gunned down by cops

By Our Representative
The view has grown that Tuesday's shooting in Tamil Nadu, which led to the death of 11 persons, including a 17-year-old girl, was the culmination of over two decades of "blatant" disregard for the lives and well-being of the people and protecting corporate interests. The company which is in the eye of storm following the shootout, Sterlite, was allotted land in Maharashtra in 1992, but was shifted to Tamil Nadu due to massive protest by the people of Ratnagiri.
A top civil rights networking organization, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), has said that the genesis and growth of Strelite in Tamil Nadu is "an example of how the deep crony capitalism is entrenched in our system", underlining, "The project received environmental clearance in January 1995, even before the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA)."
Pointing out that "there have been periodical complains made to the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) on health issues caused gas leak, draining toxic waste along with rainwater, polluting the groundwater", NAPM has said in a strongly-worded statement, "But each time Sterlite got a clean chit."
The statement has been signed, among others, by Medha Patkar of the Narmada Bachao Andolan; Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey and Shankar Singh of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan and National Campaign for People’s Right to Information; Prafulla Samantara of the Lok Shakti Abhiyan; Meera Sanghamitra and Rajesh Serupally of NAPM Telangana-Andhra Pradesh; and Dr Binayak Sen of the Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties.
"In 2013, the Supreme Court on hearing the people of Thoothukudi, gave a severe indictment to the company, but refused to shut it down", said NAPM, even as demanding a court-monitored judicial inquiry by a retired Supreme Court judge and action against senior political leaders, officials responsible for the "massacre".
NAPM said, the "violence" by the Tamil Nadu Police, during the "largely peaceful protests" against the Sterilite Copper Plant of Vedanta Pvt Ltd in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu, follows people of Thoothukudi agitating against the pollution of ground water and air by the copper smelter for years.
The current phase of protest,it said, started in early March when the expansion of Sterlite plant to double capacity was announced. On the 100th day of protest, i.e. May 22, against Sterlite, thousands of people of Thoothukudi took out a pre-announced march towards the collectorate. The march was to reiterate their demand to shut down the existing copper smelter, causing severe pollution and health hazards.
"The Tamil Nadu police lathi charged, exploded tear gas shells and smoke bombs at the protesters without provocation", claimed NAPM, adding, "When people ran towards the collectorate, during which time certain government vehicles were reportedly torched, the police opened fire killing 11 people and injuring several others."
"Over 3,000 police personnel, including commandos with self-loaded rifles, were deployed to bring the ‘situation under control’," said NAPM, adding,"Reports from the ground account for police chasing and unprovoked shooting at men and women and into fishing hamlets. There are videos of police personal shooting from a safe distance atop vehicles and armed with lathi entering hospital and beating up the injured!"
On March 24, 2018 a similar protest was called, participated by tens of thousands of people, with no untoward incident. This forced TNPCB and the Rural Development Officer (RDO), to take groundwater samples from seven locations within Sterlite factory premises and eight from villages around the factory.
The results revealed widespread and high levels of contamination in all 15 groundwater sources. Levels of the neurotoxin heavy metal lead, which is particularly toxic to children, were found to be between 4 and 55 times higher than levels considered safe for drinking water. The company has been shut down many a time through court orders for violation of environmental safeguards, since 1998.
Pointing out that "at least 15 workers have died and many have been injured due to hazardous working conditions", NAPM said,"We saw similar brute force and false charges used to curb the Koodankulam anti-nuclear protests. Similarly the same brutality was shown in curbing the Jallikattu movement."
Calling upon the Tamil Nadu government to honour the interim order of the Madras High Court issued onm Wednesday to stall all works of the plant and conduct a public hearing, NAPM demanded immediate disbursement of at least Rs 1 crore compensation to the families of each of the deceased persons, Rs 50 lakhs to each of the severely injured persons and a permanent government job to at least one member in the family of each of the deceased.
Also asking registration of FIR under Section 302 IPC against the senior officials as well as political leaders, "without whose facilitation and orders, the planning and executed these shootings and killings would not have happened", NAPM said, "The Government of Tamil Nadu has lost its ethical right to govern the state."

Comments

anvianu said…
I just needed to record a speedy word to express profound gratitude to you for those magnificent tips and clues you are appearing on this site.
fire and safety course in chennai
safety course in chennai

TRENDING

Girl child education: 20 major states 'score' better than Gujarat, says GoI report

By Rajiv Shah
A Government of India report, released last month, has suggested that “model” Gujarat has failed to make any progress vis-à-vis other states in ensuring that girls continue to remain enrolled after they leave primary schools. The report finds that, in the age group 14-17, Gujarat’s 71% girls are enrolled at the secondary and higher secondary level, which is worse than 20 out of 22 major states for which data have been made available.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad "declared support" to two-nation theory in 1937, followed by Jinnah three years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

Hindutva founders, not Congress, were actual 'proponents' of two-nation theory

By Shamsul Islam*
No other organization, in the present world, can beat Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in double-speak. In fact, what George Orwell termed as "doublespeak" would be an understatement in the case of RSS. The latest proof of this nasty case was provided by the Union Home Minister Amit Shah, de facto Prime Minister and senior RSS leader in the Lok Sabha (akin to the House of Commons in England) on December 9, 2019.

Congress 'promises' cancellation of Adani power project: Jharkhand elections

Counterview Desk
Pointing out that people's issues take a backseat in Jharkhand's 2019 assembly elections, the state's civil rights organization, the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, a coalition of activists and people’s organisations, has said that political parties have largely ignored in their electoral manifestos the need to implement the fifth schedule of the Constitution in a predominantly tribal district.

Hindutva founders 'borrowed' Nazi, fascist idea of one flag, one leader, one ideology

By Shamsul Islam*
With the unleashing of the reign of terror by the RSS/BJP rulers against working-class, peasant organizations, women organizations, student movements, intellectuals, writers, poets and progressive social/political activists, India also witnessed a series of resistance programmes organized by the pro-people cultural organizations in different parts of the country. My address in some of these programmes is reproduced here... 
***  Before sharing my views on the tasks of artists-writers-intellectuals in the times of fascism, let me briefly define fascism and how it is different from totalitarianism. Totalitarianism is political concept, a dictatorship of an individual, family or group which prohibits opposition in any form, and exercises an extremely high degree of control over public and private life. It is also described as authoritarianism.
Whereas fascism, while retaining all these repressive characteristics, also believes in god-ordained superiority of race, cultur…

Ships recycling Bill 'allows' India to be turned into a landfill for foreign hazardous waste

Counterview Desk
In a letter to M Venkaiah Naidu, chairman, Rajya Sabha, senior activist Gopal Krishna of the Toxics Watch Alliance has said that the Recycling of Ships Bill, 2019 should be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment, Forests and Climate Change to "safeguard country’s maritime environment from harmful and hazardous wastes and materials".

Ex-World Bank chief economist doubts spurt in India's ease of doing business rank

By Rajiv Shah
This is in continuation of my previous blog where I had quoted from a commentary which top economist Prof Kaushik Basu had written in the New York Times (NYT) a little less than a month ago, on November 6, to be exact. He recalled this article through a tweet on November 29, soon after it was made known that India's growth rate had slumped (officially!) to 4.5%.

With RSS around, does India need foreign enemy to undo its democratic-secular fabric?

By Shamsul Islam*
Many well-meaning liberal and secular political analysts are highly perturbed by sectarian policy decisions of RSS/BJP rulers led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, especially after starting his second inning. They are vocal in red-flagging lynching incidents, policies of the Modi government on Kashmir, the National Register of Citizens (NRC), the demand for 'Bharat Ratna' to Savarkar who submitted 6-7 mercy petitions to the British masters (getting remission of 40 years out of 50 years' sentence), and the murder of constitutional norms in Goa, Karnataka and now in Maharashtra.

Post-Balakot, danger that events might spiral out of control is 'greater, not less'

By Tapan Bose*
The fear of war in South Asia is increasing. Tensions are escalating between India and Pakistan after the Indian defence minister's announcement in August this year that India may revoke its current commitment to only use nuclear weapons in retaliation for a nuclear attack, known as ‘no first use’. According to some experts who are watching the situation the risk of a conflict between the two countries has never been greater since they both tested nuclear weapons in 1998.

80 RTI activists killed since 2014, yet Modi govt 'refuses' to implement whistleblowers Act

By Our Representative
Ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took over power in 2014 at the Centre, more than 80 have been killed “in their quest for information and accountability” through the Right to Information (RTI) Act, a public hearing in Delhi has been told. Senior politicians from opposition parties, including Congress and Left, heard people express their anguish over the manner in which the government was treating the RTI Act, even as refusing to operationalise the Whistleblower Protection Act, passed in 2014.