In a shocking revelation, Minister of State for Shipping, Pon Radhakrishnan has now alleged that Sterlite Copper tried to bribe him. The allegation comes even as Sterlite is in the eye of a storm in Tamil Nadu, with people accusing them of causing pollution and operating without licence.
Speaking to media persons in Thoothukudi, the minister and BJP leader said, “People from that company had been sent to me to talk about certain things. You know what I'm talking about. For talking about a deal. I said no. After that, when I was contesting in the elections, campaign funds were sent. I don't know who came but they came. I said I won't take it.”
Further, Radhakrishnan denied that he had any relationship with the company whose practices he had reportedly protested against in the past. “I have protested against Sterlite. I was on the streets for it for four days,” the minister said.
The minister won from the Kanyakumari Parliamentary constituency in 2014 on a BJP ticket.
Protests over the Vedanta owned company have taken place all over the state in recent months. The Tamil diaspora around the world, too, have raised their voice against the company. Residents of Thoothukudi have complained for over two decades about the toxic effluents that have plagued the groundwater in the area, making them fall ill with a host of diseases. reportedly including terminal diseases such as cancer.
In 2013, the Sterlite copper plant was fined by the Supreme Court for polluting the land and water in the area on account of a gas leak. The apex court also slammed the plant for operating without requisite permits for a considerable period of time.
On March 24, thousands gathered in Thoothukudi to protest against the plant, in a complete shut down in the district. The protest was against the plant’s operations and plans to expand. The Tamil Nadu government also came under fire not investigating the plant and its activities despite proof of the company’s polluting practices.