Meanwhile, many people in Thoothukudi burst crackers in celebration.

Smoke billowing as protest against Sterlite plant turned violent in Thoothukudi
news Sterlite case Tuesday, August 18, 2020 - 11:42

Leaders across the political spectrum in Tamil Nadu welcomed the Madras High Court’s verdict on Tuesday ordering the Sterlite copper plant in Thoothukudi to remain shut. The verdict comes as a huge relief for residents in villages around the plant who have been protesting against it for over two decades. Political leaders who have spoken up against the Vedanta-owned copper smelter in recent years, especially following the May 2018 police firing, called the verdict a victory for environmental justice in the state.

MDMK leader Vaiko, who has been lending his support to the fight against the plant in his capacity as activist as well as lawyer, said, “It’s a victory for all the people of Thoothukudi, a victory for the 13 people who were shot dead. Politically, this victory belongs to the DMK.” The MDMK chief argued on behalf of the residents during public consultations held by the National Green Tribunal (NGT).

DMK MP from Thoothukudi district, Kanimozhi said, "The Madras High Court has refused to permit reopening of the Thoothukudi Sterlite plant. The verdict has made us realise that the growth we get by selling the environment is dangerous. The DMK welcomes this verdict. This is a victory people have secured after many giving up their lives also."

“The DMK's position has been that the plant should not be opened. That's been our consistent position. This is a verdict thanks to the protests by people of Thoothukudi who have laid down their lives for this. This verdict highlights how important it is to protect the environment, the court has reiterated that. It is to be welcomed,” the MP told Tamil news channel News18.

Meanwhile, many people in Thoothukudi burst crackers in celebration. 

K Balakrishnan of the CPI(M) said that the murder of 13 people could have been avoided if the government had listened to the demands of the people before. “People have been fighting against Sterlite there for at least 15 years. CPI(M) welcomes this verdict and this victory should be dedicated to the lives lost in firing.”

VCK also welcomed the verdict. MP Ravikumar tweeted, "I welcome the High Court's verdict to continue the stay on reopening the Sterlite plant."

Naam Thamizhar chief Seeman also welcomed the verdict. He said, “This is not an instant victory, people have fought for years. But this is not enough. No action has been taken against a single policeman who shot 13 people dead.”

Sreenivasan of BJP said, “AIADMK and DMK helped Sterlite plant and BJP has always supported the High Court verdict. We have always opposed Sterlite. Our former MP Pon Radhakrishnan has also worked for the closure of the plant.” he however added that the courts will have to consider the shortage of copper in the country, following the closure of the plant. 

Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar said, “Madras High Court has upheld the view of AIADMK government to not allow the Sterlite plant to function. It is the government's position that the Sterlite factory be permanently closed. The court has confirmed this. This is to be welcomed.”

Actor and leader of the Makkal Needhi Maiam party Kamal Haasan tweeted, “The verdict that the Sterlite closure will continue is justice begotten from the sacrifice of many lives. I have stood nearby as a brother and felt the necessity for this verdict and their pain. This is yet another example that the people's voice will triumph.” 

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