March 30, 2013 4:19:48 pm
Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board today ordered closure of Sterlite Industries Ltd’s copper smelter unit here in the wake of alleged noxious gas leak from it.
The TNPCB,under instructions from District Collector Ashish Kumar,issued a notice directing the Vedanta group company to close the plant,officials said.
Company officials said they have started shutting down the operations of the unit complying with the TNPCB order,which came a week after an unspecified gas allegedly leaked in the area on March 23.
The gas leak caused mild suffocation,sore throat and eye irritation to several people in the locality who suspected that it originated from Sterlite,dealing in sulphuric acid.
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The leak triggered protests with hundreds of people, including MDMK leader Vaiko and CPI leader Nallakkanu,being arrested on March 28 when they were on a march to the unit demanding its closure.
Based on an inspection report by Pollution Control Board,Revenue Divisional Officer K Latha had served a notice on March 24 to the company seeking its reply.
Sterlite officials,had,however,claimed that their plant was safe and they followed the highest safety norms.
Vaiko,who has been spearheading the protest campaign against the Sterlite Industries for the past several years,welcomed the state government decision ordering closure of the unit and thanked Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.
Describing the development as “a victory” to people’s struggle”,Vaiko said that “we had been struggling (against Sterlite) for the past 17 years.”
In a statement,he thanked Jayalalithaa on behalf of his party and the people of Tuticorin and also demanded compensation to workers of the plant.
Vaiko had been pressing for the closure of the plant on the ground that pollution caused by it had turned farm lands into non-cultivable,besides badly affecting the fishery resources in the coastal town.
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