A section of villagers from Madathur in Thoothukudi submitted a petition to the District Legal Services Authority on Monday requesting the Tamil Nadu government to ensure the shut down of the Sterlite plant. The letter, among other things, stated that the villagers were not brainwashed into protesting against the plant.
In the two-page letter, the villagers requested the state government to take back the land provided to Sterlite and rescind the permits granted for the construction of the plant, Labour Department permits and the permits granted by the Fire Department. The petition also demanded that the state government argue the case by employing senior advocates for the hearing scheduled on July 18 at the National Green Tribunal (NGT).
âThe Thoothukudi police have arrested many protestors and supporters of the protests, and registered false cases on them. There are no men in our village and in the nearby villages. There are rumours that we have been brainwashed to protest against Sterlite. We submit that we protested on our own and were not brainwashed by anybody. People from our village have been petitioned upon with false threats from the police. In all honesty, the anti-Sterlite movement was totally by the people,â stated the letter.
The villagers also requested the appointment of an expert committee to study the damage that Sterlite inflicts upon the people and the environment, and that the NGT must be informed about the appointment of such committee.
The letter also said that the protest was supported by the people of Tamil Nadu, Tamils living abroad, lawyersâ association, political leaders including DMK Working President MK Stalin, Vaiko, Ramadoss, Thol. Thirumavalavan, Kamal Haasan and Sarath Kumar.
It also said that the arrested lawyers Vanchinathan and Hari Raghavan, and other lawyers who are now being searched for by the police, helped them legally.
âThis being the true situation, many activities are being done to reopen the Sterlite plant. Our village is firm on the intention to shut down Sterlite. Hence, we request the Tamil Nadu government to oust Sterlite from the SIPCOT campus and stop the false arrests and cases registered against us. The government should also withdraw the cases filed against the people and release those who have been arrested based on these cases,â said the letter.
This letter comes after a group of fishermen from Thoothukudi submitted a petition to the District Legal Services Authority alleging that they were brainwashed by the âMakkal Adhikaramâ outfit to picket the Collectorate on May 22.
The letter had claimed that they had assured the district administration in the peace meeting convened on May 20 that they would remain peaceful and continue their protests in the SAV grounds on May 22 to attract the attention of the state government to the reported pollution caused by Sterlite. But then, after that, advocates Hari Raghavan and Vanchinathan changed their hearts, the letter had stated.
Meanwhile, the Chemical Industries Association issued an advertisement in newspapers urging the government to âprobe the validity of the allegations levied against Sterlite and take the appropriate remedial measures if requiredâ. It claims that more than 10,000 people are employed by 29 companies that are directly dependent on Sterlite and that there are no reports of health hazards being caused by copper smelter plants anywhere in the country and the world.
The anti-Sterlite protest in Thoothukudi took a tragic turn on day 100 of the protest, May 22, when the police opened fire at the crowd and killed 13 civilians.