Villagers from Thoothukudi stage protest in Delhi, seek reopening of Sterlite Copper plant
New Delhi, Nov 29 (IANS) A group of villagers from the vicinity of the Sterlite Copper plant in Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday staged a protest in the national Capital demanding that stakeholders and decision-makers reopen the plant.
The villagers staged a peaceful protest at Jantar Mantar here demanding the immediate reopening of the plant to safeguard livelihoods and restore economic uplift of the region.
They contended that the plant was a crucial source of employment and economic sustenance in the region and its closure in 2018, prompted by protests alleging environmental violations, had a profound and adverse effect on the livelihoods of the local communities.
They said that it has crippled the lives of the locals, compelling many to migrate to cities in search of employment opportunities to meet the needs of their families.
They also highlighted that the villagers have come to realise that there was a deliberate effort to disseminate misinformation and cast doubts on their genuine concerns.
The villagers said that they are now fully aware of orchestrated paid activism aimed at shutting down the factory through the spread of false information.
Citing the 2018 protest, the villagers contended that the community was misled and the misinformation campaign resulted in violence, leading to the tragic loss of lives among community members and inflicted severe damage on their livelihoods.
The villagers also underscored the importance of distinguishing between authentic voices of the affected community and those influenced by external interests and urged for a fair and unbiased consideration of their plea, free from the influence of misinformation and external agendas.
Narrating the hardships, one of the villagers said, “Our livelihood was dependent on Sterlite Copper, and its closure has left us grappling with financial uncertainty. We are here to emphasise that reopening of Sterlite Copper is not just about a plant. It’s about the revival of our livelihoods and the economic uplift of our community. We have been awaiting the decision on the plant reopening for a long time and are positively looking forward to the hearing on December 6.”
The villagers also argued that the reopening of the plant will also help ancillaries flourish in the region. To address concerns and collectively work towards a sustainable and mutually beneficial solution, they further called for a transparent dialogue with all stakeholders.
The matter of closure of the plant is posted for final hearing on December 6 in the Supreme Court.