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CITIZENS’ STATEMENT ON POLICE VIOLENCE AGAINST STERLITE PROTESTORS IN THOOTHUKUDI

Written By BiharWatch on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 | 3:07 AM

Police violence in Thoothukudi has left several people dead and many more injured. Not only was this tragedy totally avoidable, it appears that the Police have even given hot pursuit and shot at women and others in fishing hamlets like Theresepuram. The sheer brutality of the police action reminds one of the manner in which the Jallikattu protests were dealt with.
The Government of Tamil Nadu, Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board and the Thoothukudi District Administration are squarely responsible for allowing the situation to get to this unfortunate state by allowing Vedanta Sterlite to violate environmental and land use planning laws with impunity for over two decades.
The people who died are just ordinary people who have been forced to take to the streets, and march to the Collectorate to demand action from an administration that has systematically and for decades failed to enforce the law on Sterlite. The District Collector, the chairperson and member secretary of Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, the Secretaries holding the environment portfolios in the central and state governments, the ministers of environment at the state and centre, and the chief minister of Tamil Nadu need to account for their inaction in the face of overwhelming evidence of illegalities, environmental harm and damage to public health.
This is not the first time that Sterlite's pollution and the impunity it enjoys has been the cause of public anger in Thoothukudi. In 2013, the Supreme Court of India curiously found the company guilty of misrepresentation, unlicensed operation and polluting the environment, but allowed the company to operate after paying a small fine as it felt India needed the copper.
The company failed to reform its ways even after this narrow judicial escape. The regulators -- TNPCB and Ministry of Environment and Forests -- too continued their cosy relationship with Sterlite ignoring blatant violations of statutory conditions and clear indications of pollution. It is a known fact that the state and central governments have allowed Sterlite to operate with lower-than-required chimney stacks, thereby exposing lakhs of residents to higher levels of toxic pollutants.
It has ignored the tentative findings of a government medical college's health study that reported higher incidence of certain health problems among the villagers living around the factory.
Let us not forget that for the second time in two months more than a lakh residents of this coastal town have taken to the streets with one clear demand: Immediate and Complete Shutdown of Sterlite. The state government and the district administration should also be blamed for failing to appreciate the depth of resentment among the people of Thoothukudi to Sterlite's illegal and polluting operations and the betrayal by the State of its people.
The Government of Tamil Nadu has lost its moral right to govern, and should at the very least ensure that the senior ministers who failed to read the signs properly and take preventive action resign. But before anything else, the Government of Tamil Nadu should have the decency to declare an end to the toxic terrorism unleashed by Sterlite and permanently close down the polluting unit.
Signed:
Henri Tiphagne, Advocate & National Working Secretary, Human Rights Defenders’ Alert – India ( HRDA), Executive Director, People’s Watch
Justice D Hariparanthaman (Retd.)
MG Devasahayam, IAS (Retd.)
Vetri Maaran, Filmmaker
Charu Govindan, Voices of People
Dr. V Vasanthi Devi, Former Vice-Chancellor, Manormanium Sundaranar University
Chandra Mohan, Arappor Iyakkam
G Sundarrajan, Poovulagin Nanbargal
Nityanand Jayaraman, Writer and Social Activist
V. Geetha, Writer and Publisher, Chennai
Prema Revathi, Writer, Publisher and Actor, Chennai
Piyush Manush, Salem Citizen’s Forum
A Mangai, Professor
V Arasu, Professor
R Rathindran Prasad, Filmmaker
Divya Bharathi, Filmmaker Sofia Ashraf, Writer and Rapper
Kavitha Muralidharan, Journalist, Chennai
Sujata Mody, President, Penn Thozhilalargal Sangam
M. Subbu, Tamil Maanila Kattida Thozhilalar Sangam (TMKTS)
Dr. Rakhal Gaitonde, Public Health Researcher
Swarna Rajagopalan, Gender Equality Activist
Nadika Nadja, Writer, Chennai
L Ramakrishnan, Queer & Women's Rights activist
Ashley Tellis, LGBT activist
Srijith Sundaram, Theatre practitioner, Kattiyakkari
Amirtharaj Stephen, Photographers for Environment & Peace collective
Anushka Meenakshi, Filmmaker
Iswar Srikumar, Filmmaker
Archanaa Seker, Writer and Activist
Satyarupa Shekhar, Social Activist
Om Prakash Singh, Social Activist
Bharat Nayak, Founding Member & Editorial Director, The Logical Indian
Shweta Narayan, Environmental Researcher and Activist
Dharmesh Shah, Environmental Activist & Public Policy Researcher
Pooja Kumar, Chennai Solidarity Group
K Saravanan, Fisherman
Aiswarya Rao, Public Health and Disability Rights Activist
Balaji Sampath, Activist and Educator
Kaber Vasuki, Writer and Musician
Shravan Krishnan, Animals Rights Activist
Sudha Ramamurthy, Persons with Disabilities Rights Activist
Subathra, Arappor Iyakkam
AR Dileep Srinivasan, The New Face of Society
Kavitha Rajendran, Coordinator - People’s Platform Against Fascism
Ram vaitheeswaran, Filmmaker
Mythri Prasad, Associate Fellow, Institute for Human Development
Sudipto Mondal, Journalist, Bangalore
Suseela Anand , Advocate
Sandeep K, Cinematographer
Elangovan kulandaivelu, COO, Zinnea
Gurumoorthy M, AID India Bangalore Chapter and Entrepreneur
Rajkumar Sivasamy, Bangalore
Steevez Rodriguez, Photographer
Venkatachandrika R., IT Engineer
Rahul Muralidharan, Researcher, Chennai
T Venkat, Independent Journalist, Chennai
Annapoorni Devaraja, Classical Dancer
Lakshmi Premkumar, Activist, Delhi,
Delfina Kanchana Sundar, Independent Researcher, Chennai
Namithaa Jayasankar, Queer Femme Activist
Samyuktha PC, Chennai, Theatre Director
Satwik Gade, Illustrator
Aparnaaa Nagesh, Founder, High Kicks dance ensemble
Ravindra Vijay, Actor
Akhil Al Hassan, Entrepreneur
Janani Sathviga, Pune
Sonal Jain, Social Entrepreneur
Pradeep Kuttuva, Researcher, Chennai
Pazhani Aarya, Researcher
M.Shreela, Law student
Amba Salelkar, Advocate, Chennai
Chenthil Nathan, Translator, Chennai
Ramya Sadasivam, Artist
Smitha Sadasivan, Member, Disability Rights Alliance, India
Gayatri Nair, Photographer
Nilakantan RS, Data Scientist
Dr. Anbudorai, Psychiatrist



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