1 killed in fresh police firing, MHA seeks report from TN govt

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The district collector, the chairperson and member secretary of Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, the secretaries holding the environment portfolios in the central and state governments, the ministers of environment at the state and Centre, and the chief minister of Tamil Nadu need to account for their inaction in the face of overwhelming evidence of illegalities, environmental harm and damage to public health. Several reports, however, put the death toll at 11. Even after heavy police force was deployed in the region, protests and violence continued.

The home ministry has asked the state government to provide details of the incident at Tuticorin, an official said.

Protesters who marched to the Thoothukudi Collectorate against the expansion of the Sterlite Copper plant owned by Vedanta Limited were stopped by barricades put up by the police.

Retired Judge Aruna Jagadeesan has been appointed by the Tamil Nadu government to probe police firing during anti-sterlite protest in Thoothukudi on Tuesday in which 11 people had been killed. Nine people died nearly instantly in police firing.

Local television showed police trying to disperse the crowd with tear gas and a policeman firing shots from the top of a van.

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State Minister D. Jayakumar said in a televised address that it had been "unavoidable" for police to fire on protesters.

The protestors claimed that that the plant would pollute groundwater in their area, and causing serious environmental hazards. "When people of Maharashtra said that they did not want a factory that was unsafe for the lives of people, it came to Tamil Nadu and has become the bane of people".

"We would like to restart the plant as soon as possible, in a peaceful manner", P. Ramnath, chief executive of Vedanta Ltd's copper business, told Reuters.

Let us not forget that for the second time in two months more than one lakh residents of this coastal town have taken to the streets with one clear demand: immediate and complete shutdown of Sterlite.

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