Ramdev Meets Vedanta Boss, Backs Sterlite Plant in Tuticorin
Controversial yoga teacher and businessman Baba Ramdev has raised the ‘foreign conspiracy’ bogey on Sterlite protests in Tuticorin (Thoothukudi).
Ramdev tweeted in support of Sterlite and Vedanta and claimed that the anti-Sterlite protestors were instigated by ‘international conspirators’, right after he met with Vedanta’s Executive Chairman, Anil Agarwal, in London.
In the same breath, Ramdev also tried to discredit the Tuticorin (Thoothukudi) protests against Sterlite.
“International conspirators created ruckus at one of Vedanta’s plant in South of India through innocent local people. Industries are the temples of development for the nation. They should not be closed,” Ramdev said in the tweet.
Ramdev’s comments had no context or reference to either the pollution caused by the company – because of which it was shut down by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board – or to the police shootout that killed 13 people and injured several others on the 100th day of the protest.
The tweets did not even mention Tuticorin (Thoothukudi) – the place where the industry is located – instead relegating the flashpoint to a generic ‘South of India’.
Sterlite’s copper plant in Tuticorin has been in the eye of a storm for several months now, with the people in the district protesting against the pollution caused by the copper smelter.
Several documents show that Sterlite did not follow environmental norms, especially regarding the height of the chimney stacks, as well as the green belt required around the plant in order to reduce the effects of the effluents released by the factory.
On the 100th day of the protest, on 22 May, however, the police shot at agitators in Tuticorin, after a few protestors reportedly resorted to stone pelting.
Visuals showed police officers in plain clothes taking aim with snipers and shooting at protestors. In the shootout, 13 civilians were killed, including a minor girl.
Sterlite’s smelter was shut down on 28 May, after the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board said that the company was not following environmental norms.
(This article has been published in an arrangement with The News Minute)