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Anti-Sterlite protests in Tuticorin turn violent as death toll rises to 9

File photo of Anti-Sterlite Protest in Thoothukudi. Photograph:( ANI )

WION Web Team Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu, India May 22, 2018, 03.22 PM (IST)

At least nine protesters died and many were injured on Tuesday after the Tamil Nadu Police resorted to lathi-charge during an agitation by the locals against Sterlite’s industrial plant in Tamil Nadu's Tuticorin.

Today is the 100th day of protests against the Sterlite plant. The locals want closure of the industrial unit.

Protesters also ransacked the Collector’s office and burnt tyres.

Visuals from the ground showed policemen charging at protesters with lathis who pelted stones at them. The police have erected barricades around the Collector's office to avoid worsening of the tense stand-off.

Several shops and commercial establishments remain closed in Tuticorin due to violent protests.

The residents have planned to intensify the agitation, claiming that the plant has polluted the ground water in the area. The protests have been going on for the past three months over severe health problems among the residents.

Section 144 of the CrPC (Criminal Procedure Code which lists out the procedure for administration of law in India), which prevents unlawful assembly of people in an area, has been imposed in and around the Sterlite unit. There is heavy deployment of police in the city, with additional forces being rushed in from neighbouring cities as well.

Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the families of each of those killed, Rs 3 lakh to those seriously injured, and Rs 1 lakh for people who suffered minor injuries.

He also assured government jobs for one family member of each of those who lost their lives in accordance with their qualifications.

The chief minister instructed the Tuticorin district administration to ensure those wounded got good medical treatment.

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Reason behind the anti-Sterlite Copper plant protest

The Sterlite plant is a copper unit of Vedanta Limited. In March-end, the plant closed down for maintenance work. This is when protests intensified as residents were told they were expanding the unit. Residents allege the water in the area has been contaminated due to the plant's operations. They claim they are facing severe health problems due to the unit.