On Tuesday this week, police, with clear complicity of Vedanta, opened fire on the 100th day of protests against the Sterlite copper smelter in Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu, and killed 12 innocent and unarmed protesters.
We will be holding a protest at the India High Commission (WC2B 4) in London on Saturday 3 – 5pm condemning the Indian state’s collusion with this criminal British company.
We will also be targeting British government and opposition politicians to finally investigate and de-list Vedanta from the London Stock Exchange.
Please join the facebook event and hope to see you there.
On 22 May 2018, the Indian Police opened fire on a crowd of civilians killing 12 and injured more than 60 others, who were protesting against pollution at Thoothukudi, in the Southern State of Tamil Nadu. Some of are in critical condition. Following the open fire assault, there are more repressive measures carried out on 23 rd May where another innocent was brutally murdered.
This event culminated after a hundred days of protest in which the citizens of the town were demanding complete shut down of the copper plant.
London protests are targeting the Indian High Commission for their complicity in this corporate massacre that should have never happened.
Please bring placards and noise!
End the pollution, deaths and suffering in Thoothukudi!
British company Vedanta Resources’ subsidiary Sterlite Copper has begun construction of a new 400,000 tons per year smelter on the edge of the town of Tuticorin, almost doubling their capacity, but residents argue the existing smelter has continuously polluted their water and air since it was established in 1996, causing respiratory and skin problems, fainting and other illness, especially among children.
Today the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court has passed an interim order after a petition was filed by Fatima Babu to hold a public hearing within four months before granting environment clearance to Sterlite copper smelter plant. The decision on the new construction, the court said, should be made by September. It ordered the Vedanta group to send a fresh petition to the Centre for environmental clearance. The court observed that Vedanta would require a separate clearance for phase 2 of its copper smelter and could not use clearance granted for phase 1.the expansion does not yet have Environmental Clearance, while the existing plant is regularly found to be dumping toxic waste in the town, and operating without proper licenses.
Residents of Thoothukudi (Tuticorin) called an indefinite dharna (protest) and hunger strike on 12th February and more than 500 people including many women and schoolchildren blocked the company gates until they were rounded up and arrested on 14th February. For the last month they have continued their protests day and night, especially in the worst affected villages surrounding the plant. On 24th March an estimated 250,000 people joined mass protests in the town.
The plant has been the subject of major protests in the town ever since its foundation stone was laid in Thoothukudi 1994, after being refused permission to set up in Gujarat, Goa and Maharastra due to pollution concerns. In March and October 1996 hundreds of fisherman blockaded the port with their boats to prevent ships carrying copper ore from unloading. In July 1997 a toxic gas leak from the plant caused 165 women in the neighbouring Ramesh Flowers factory to faint, some later miscarrying. In March 2013 another major gas leak affected the whole of Tuticorin, leading to a bandh (strike) and protests of 5000 people which completely shut down the town for several days. The plant was ordered to stop operating for more than a month, and was fined Rs 100 crore ($18 million) for pollution and damage to the environment since 1997, and for operating the plant without various environmental permissions over a number of years, by the Supreme Court. The plant is located beside the fragile Gulf of Mannar, where toxic waste has damaged fish populations and the livelihood of thousands of fishermen.
Sterlite was the first company set up by British Indian billionaire Anil Agarwal in India before he launched Vedanta Resources on the London Stock Exchange in 2003, where it is now a multi-national FTSE 250 company with operations across India and Africa. The company even had operations in military-ruled Myanmar in the 1990s. Vedanta, which was named the ‘world’s most hated company’ by the Independent newspaper in 2010, has received considerable support from the British government, including the direct assistance of former Prime Minister David Cameron in buying out Indian oil company Cairn India in 2011.
Please see for more information on the struggle
1. ‘The anti-Sterlite movement: Saga of a struggle’, 20 Apr, 2018 http://www.foilvedanta.org/news/the-anti-sterlite-movement-saga-of-a-struggle/
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-44207343 for more information on the massacre of protesters.