In a shocking revelation, Republic TV has accessed documents which show that the Congress-led UPA government, on multiple occasions backed the controversial Sterlite project in Tuticorin. In the light of Congress blaming the Narendra Modi led BJP government for Sterlite protests, these documents show how blatantly the Congress is lying about the approvals.
According to Republic TV, six separate documents which serve as recorded endorsements and two press releases provide ample evidence that the UPA government, between 2007 and 2012, spanning over two governments, backed the project despite repeated concerns.
The first approval came in March 2007 when UPA’s Environment Ministry cleared the proposal for setting up 2×60 MW coal-based captive power plant. This was followed by August 2007 for an expansion for Copper Smelter, writing ‘MoEF accords environmental clearance.’ In January 2009, the ministry gave a fresh environmental clearance to Sterlite for an expansion.
When MoS in Environment Ministry, Jairam Ramesh, was asked about pollution in Tuticorin in the Parliament in March 2010, he had said ‘no serious charge has been levelled against Sterlite.’ He followed it up in August 2010 by saying that the expansion permissions were given after following the procedure laid out in Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification when the government was questioned whether the permission was given without undertaking any public hearing. Finally, in July 2012, the government backed the expansion by permitting another construction at the plant.
The Tuticorin region of TamilNadu has been engulfed in violent protests by agitators who are opposing the proposed expansion of smelter Thoothukudi by Sterlite Copper – a subsidiary of Vedanta. This expansion plan would result in the plant’s total output potential to rise to 4.2 lakh tonnes per year.
The violent protests which have seen damage to public property have resulted in the deaths of at least thirteen individuals after the police resorted to firing to try and establish control. In an attempt to exploit the situation, Congress President Rahul Gandhi had even tried to attack PM Modi and RSS for these deaths by claiming that Tamilians were ‘massacred’ for not following RSS’ ideology. RSS even lashed out at Rahul for lying blatantly.