Press Statement

NEW DELHI, MAY 24, 2018: The INDIA GREENS PARTY – pan-India Green party — has demanded a fair and prompt enquiry by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) into the killings of innocent citizens in Thoothukudi (Tuticorin), Tamil Nadu on 22nd and 23rd of May 2018.

The Indian Greens wishes to reiterate here that the 22nd May’s protest was only to mark 100 days since the fresh agitation began in January this year.

More than ten innocent citizens were brutally shot down and over 100 were injured by police in Thoothukudi (Tuticorin), Tamil Nadu. The citizens were peacefully protesting against the grossly contaminated water resources and air they were compelled to live amidst for the past two decades.

The India Greens Party is of the view that the tragedy was avoidable and the sheer brutality of the police action only reminded one of the manner in which the Jallikattu protests were dealt with not very long ago.

The India Greens Party strongly feels that the Government of Tamil Nadu; the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB); the Thoothukudi District Administration; and Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change are squarely responsible for allowing the situation to get to the condemnable state by allowing Vedanta Sterlite to violate environmental and land use planning laws with impunity for over two decades.

This is to be noted here that in 1996, mining conglomerate Vedanta set up Sterlite Copper, a plant to smelt copper, on the edge of Tuticorin town. The plant began releasing excessive amounts of sulphur dioxide and other toxic pollutants, poisoning the groundwater, drinking water and air around the area. Soon, residents started suffering from skin diseases, asthma, wheezing and other breathing problems. While protests over the years fizzled out due to crackdowns, the situation peaked in January 2018 when news broke that Sterlite Copper would double its capacity.

In a nutshell, the India Greens Party is of the strong opinion that raising voice against the toxic pollutants that were fatally wrecking the health of thousands of people in the area was not a crime. In fact, Sterlite has been violating the environmental laws for a long time. In 2013, the Supreme Court of India had found the company guilty of misrepresentation, unlicenced operation and polluting the environment, but allowed the company to operate after paying a small fine as it felt India needed the copper. However, the company failed to reform its ways even after this judicial escape. The regulators — TNPCB and Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change — 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.

In view of all above, the India Greens Party demands that the Government of Tamil Nadu be sacked as it has lost its moral right to govern.

-Suresh Nautiyal, National Convener, INDIA GREENS PARTY.