Sacrifice Too High
Maintaining the balance between nature and development is very difficult. Ensuring development without disturbing environment is not easy. On the other hand, if we prevent development just to protect nature, it will have a direct fallout on our livelihood. But even this reality cannot justify the killing of 13 persons in police firing at Tutikorin, the port city situated in southern Tamilnadu. Apart from so many deaths, hundreds of people were injured and similar numbers of youth are missing since the tragic day. Eyewitnesses claim that most youth, who are missing, were picked by the police either from the houses or localities. The firing and the subsequent police action clearly proves total administration failure on that day. The police force was not interested in controlling the agitators. Their intentions were clear. The forces wanted to crush the movement. That is why they pulled the triggers virtually without any provocation. It is not wrong to expect that the truth will come out after the completion of judicial probe ordered by the state government. But the manner in which the Tamil Nadu chief minister supported his police force even before the said enquiry got started definitely raises doubts about the real guilty being punished. The chief minister blamed outside forces for instigating the agitators. But while doing so he did not realise that he has provided enough clue on agitation becoming violent.
The demand for the closure of Vedanta plant is nothing new. It has been going on for decades. In 2013, the then chief minister of Tamil Nadu J Jayalalithaa also stood beside the agitators and viewed that the plant should be closed. But no one knows why the plant was allowed to continue its operations even after the state government and the local populace were totally against it for nearly six years. Is it simply because of the delay on behalf of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to take a final call on the plant or the pressure from some influential quarters to keep the plant running? It is no gainsaying that the second element was the reason behind the extraordinary delay in ordering the closure of the plant there are such instances in other mining plants run by the same group. There are allegations that the said group is so powerful that it can change law to its advantage. But strangely, no one has dared to protest against the group so far. Only once, Congress president Rahul Gandhi voiced about a mining project to be started by the group in Odisha. Mr. Gandhi promised that the rights of the tribal people would be protected at any cost. Apart from that, no one in high places uttered a single word against the group. Rather, many political bigwigs are known for their proximity with this group.
No one supports violence. But one must think about the agitators who lost their lives in Tutikorin. The Tamil Nadu chief minister has himself admitted that earlier protests were peaceful. The protestors turned violent only when they realised they would not achieve anything by carrying on their agitation peacefully. Who is to blame for such a feeling – the agitators or the power that was in no mood close down the plant? More, allegations made by the agitators were not unfounded. It is proved beyond doubt by the order of the Pollution Control Board to close the plant immediately after the tragic incident. But no one is rejoicing as the people of Tutikorin had to pay, sacrificing their lives.