The Tamil Nadu Government issued a G.O. on Monday to seal and “permanently close” the Sterlite Copper smelter plant in Thoothukudi. 13 people were killed in Thoothukudi last week when police opened fire on anti-Sterlite protesters, who were marching to the Collectorate to seek the closure of the “polluting” plant.
The G.O. was issued on the eve of the Assembly session that begins on Tuesday and it came against the backdrop of injured people confronting AIADMK Ministers about its commitment to close down the factory.
Following the G.O, officials in Thoothukudi sealed the unit. “We have sealed this plant as per the directions of the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu”, Thoothukudi Collector Sandeep Nanduri said.
“The plant is permanently sealed. There is no more confusion. I request the people of Thoothukudi to co-operate with the district administration to bring normalcy back in the district,” he added.
The G.O. issued by the Environment and Forests Department said, “Under sections 18(1)(b) of the Water Act 1974, in the larger public interest, the Government endorse the closure direction of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board and also direct the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board to seal the unit and close the plant permanently.”
A separate official release said the G.O. was issued after groups opposed to the functioning of the plant met the Chief Minister, deputy Chief Minister, senior Ministers, Chief Secretary and other officials at the State Secretariat on Monday, and sought a permanent closure of the plant.
In the order, the government said that the TNPCB did not renew the Consent to Operate to Vedanta Ltd’s Copper smelter plant in its order dated April 9, 2018.
“Subsequently, on May 23, the TNPCB has also issued directions for closure and disconnection of power supply to the unit. The power supply has been disconnected on May 24,” it said.
Separately, Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami, said in a statement that the citizens of Thoothukudi had been opposing the operation of the plant and were seeking a permanent closure of the plant as it had violated the terms related to the environment set by the National Green Tribunal and the TNPCB.
“Based on requests made by various groups opposed to the operation of the plant in a meeting today, the request to shut down the plant completely was considered in a rigorous manner,” Mr. Palaniswami said.
He said the Tamil Nadu government was following in the footsteps of the late Jayalalithaa and hence has taken the decision to close the plant in the interest of the public.
On Sunday, Minister for Information Technology, Kadambur Raju faced the ire of those injured and relatives at the hospital. Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit is likely to visit Thoothukudi on Tuesday and review the situation.