More dirt is emerging against those who led the campaign for the closure of UK-based Vedanta Resources Group’s Sterlite Copper plant in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu. Some of the people affected by the closure of the plant, which contributed over 40 per cent of the country’s copper production, have now come out in the open to wonder what’s behind the sudden prosperity of those who headed the campaign.
An unidentified Thoothukudi person told media near the Sterlite plant that over 10,000 daily workers are suffering from the closure of the Sterlite plant and many families were facing water shortage.
Addressing the media outside the venue where a three-member National Green Tribunal (NGT) panel invited public response to the closure of the plant, the worker alleged: “Do you know how Mahesh, who headed the anti-Sterlite campaign, has earned money? He has got Rs 50 lakh (from those behind the anti-Sterlite campaign). Out of the Rs 50 lakh, he has bought a house for Rs 22 lakh from Muthamma colony. How did he buy that house? He has used this (anti-Sterlite) protests to make money.
“He has bought a car for Rs 4.5 lakh. How has he got this money? He has spoilt the lives of all of us. Even today, he comes as the first person to give a petition to the NGT panel. There are so many people who have been affected by the plant’s closure and are starving without water. The Sterlite copper plant should be reopened.”
The Sterlite plant was ordered shut by the Tamil Nadu government on 28 May after violence broke out on 22 May during protests demanding its closure. The violence resulted in police firing and death of 13 persons. Vedanta Resources has petitioned NGT against the closure following which it nominated a three-member panel, headed by retired justice Tarun Agarwal, to submit a report on the plant.
The panel toured Thoothukudi and Chennai and heard people demanding the plant’s reopening as well as permanent closure. On Monday (24 September), the panel received over 45,000 petitions demanding the re-opening of the plant during its hearing at Chennai.
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