Federation of Tamil Nadu Traders Association (FTTA) screened a documentary on the alleged pollution caused by industries in Thoothukudi, in the teeth of opposition from the Chennai police. Hours ahead of the screening in Chennai on December 31, the Triplicane police station claimed that requisite permission was not acquired to screen the film at the Chennai press club to journalists.
The organisers, however, pointed out that it was a private event that the police had no say in it and went ahead with the screening. The five-minute documentary, titled Maranthin Madiyil Mazhalaigal (Children in the lap of death), talks about the effects of the Bhopal Gas tragedy on children who were affected by it. It then cuts to Thoothukudi district to show children playing in a park.
The video then ends with a voice-over that appealed, â€śYou spoilt our lives in the name of development. Don't destroy the lives of children in Tuticorin in the name of development. Please let them enjoy their childhood. Please leave Tuticorinâ€ť.
There was police security at the Chennai Press club eventually, ahead of the screening, but the organisers made it clear that they were going to carry on with the event as planned. "We are not screening it in a public place. This is a private event and so we are going ahead with it,â€ť said T Vellaiyan to TNM following the police objection.
In fact, an earlier attempt by the body to screen the documentary film in Thoothukudi was stopped by the district police. â€śWe were planning to release the documentary in Thoothukudi on December 28 to benefit the people there. The Thoothukdui police, however, refused to give us permission. This is despite us informing that this was a public screening,â€ť said a press release issued ahead of the screening in Chennai.
Maranthin Madiyil Mazhalaigal is aimed at creating awareness on the possible effects of alleged pollution caused by the industries in the district on future generations. â€śThe documentary doesn't show what happened in Thoothukudi but it draws parallels to the Bhopal gas tragedy,â€ť he adds.
The Traders association has called for multiple bandhs in the past in protest against Sterlite Copper and even condemning the shooting that took place in Thoothukudi in May. The association has participated in multiple agitations against the copper smelter and opposed the reopening of the plant at hearings held by the National Green Tribunal.