Thoothukudi (Tuticorin) has erupted in violence as the people’s protests against Sterlite crosses 100 days.
Thoothukudi (Tuticorin) has erupted in violence as the people’s protests against Sterlite crosses 100 days.(Photo: Harsh Sahni / The Quint)
  • 1. When Did Sterlite Enter Thoothukudi?
  • 2. Pollution, Gas Leaks, Violations
  • 3. What Triggered the Protests?
  • 4. How the Protests Began and Grew
  • 5. Violence Erupts
  • 6. Opposition, Celebrities Condemn Violence Against Public
  • 7. The Interim Order Against Sterlite’s Expansion
  • 8. What Happens to Sterlite Now?
Anti-Sterlite Protests: What Vedanta Did & How the People Reacted

22 May marked the 100th day of protests by the people of Thoothukudi (Tuticorin) district, TN, against the Sterlite copper unit that has been an environmental and medical threat for over two decades now.

What was until then a peaceful protest of over 2.5 lakh civilians, erupted into violence, which ended with 11 civilians being gunned down by the police, and over 65 grievously injured in the melee.

Thoothukudi residents’ angst against Sterlite Corporation, as well as Sterlite’s repeated offences against government regulations, needs to be studied in some detail to understand the prevalent anti-government, anti-police and anti-corporation mood.

  • 1. When Did Sterlite Enter Thoothukudi?

    Sterlite Copper, a business unit of Vedanta Limited, set up the copper factory in 1998. Today, it puts out 1,200 tonnes per day and 400,000 tonnes per year.

    It was to have been a complex with an output of 60,000 tonnes per annum, to be established in Ratnagiri, a coastal district in Maharashtra. Owing to mass agitations by the locals, rallied by the district collector of the district, construction was suspended in 1993, barely a year after the government had given the go-ahead.

    It was after this that, in 1994, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) gave Sterlite the go-ahead (No Objection Certificate), to set up a copper smelting plant on two conditions;

    1. The plant would be set back 25 kms away from the Gulf of Mannar.

    2. The plant would be set up only after an urgent Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) was conducted.

    It must be noted that the TNPCB granted the no-objection certificate before the completion of the EIA. Also, the factory was set up 14 kms away from the Gulf of Mannar, in direct violation of the diktat.

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