The protest against Sterlite copper smelter plant in Thoothukudi (Tuticorin) is entering its 51st day. Still, sadly, the state and central governments remain totally indifferent to the just struggle for shutting down the plant to save their lives and livelihoods. Farmers, fisher folk, traders, shopkeepers, drivers and students are swelling the ranks of protesters. It is a failing of the media that it does not cover a mass protest given it importance. There is collusion between Vedanta, which runs the plant, and the government to go ahead with the expansion plans despite empirical evidence to show that the plant causes immense harm to the health of the people living in and around the port town and the environment edged with the Gulf of Mannar.
The mandatory “green belt” — a vegetarian barrier or filter — to arrest air pollution or at least attenuate its effects is non-existent. The important thing is to accept that the lives and livelihoods of people in humble circumstances cannot matter less than the commercial interests of rapacious multinational behemoths.
G David Milton, Maruthancode
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