Is Vedanta's Sterlite Copper smelter plant in Tuticorin (English for Thoothukudi) responsible for the cancer in the region? Is rainfall deficient because of the plant? Sterlite CEO, P. Ramnath insists he has data to the contrary. On May 22, Sterlite hit headlines when more than 10 people died in clashes as protesters demanding the plant's closure turned violent.
Vedanta is not new to run-ins with environmental groups and regulators. In September 2009, workers died when a chimney collapsed at its aluminium smelter complex in Korba, Chhattisgarh. Then there were protests in Odisha's Niyamgiri Hills by the tribal population over plans to source bauxite; and yet again in 2012 over allegations of illegal iron ore mining in Goa. The larger point here is that in India, the need for cheap mining and development requirements will always be in conflict with environmental issues. And the Indian government has really not figured out how to deal with it, although it often tilts towards development at the cost of the environment. -
E. Kumar Sharma