NGOs planned closure of Tuticorin copper smelter, says CEO

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New Delhi,jul 17:
Mining baron Anil Agarwal’s Sterlite Copper has blamed NGOs for spreading “myths and wrong information” about its Tuticorin plant in Tamil Nadu and “inciting” local protests, leading to its shutdown after 13 dozen people died in police firing.Sterlite Copper CEO P Ramnath told PTI that statistics don’t bear out “myths” like Tuticorin being the cancer capital of Tamil Nadu and the firm’s factory the biggest polluter in the region.
“We have been in Tuticorin for more than 20 years now and have maintained very close contact with villagers and fishermen,” he said.”All these years, we invited locals on every Saturday to spend half a day at the plant to give them an overall picture of what is happening. Our doors were absolutely open and over these years several people had come including students, lawyers,and ctors.”Protests, however, “suddenly erupted” in February as the company, after securing all approvals, began work on doubling the capacity of the plant to 800,000 tonnes per annum, he said.”When we look back at the kind of social media messages that were circulated inciting locals, it certainly looks like it was a completely planned kind of an affair,” he said, adding that fishermen were idle during those times as it was dangerous to fish in choppy sea and school and colleges were closed for annual break.”There were NGOs (non-governmental organisations) who hijacked the whole thing and put out social media messages inciting the public,” he said without naming anyone.
“This is absolutely wrong. There is statistics to prove that this wrong. Out of 32 districts (in the state), Tuticorin ranked 14th in male cancer cases and 25th in female cancer.

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