An American journalist who was working on a documentary on the health impact of the Sterlite copper smelter plant in Tamil Nadu's Tuticorin has flown back, after he was directed by the police to leave the country, citing violation of visa conditions. Freelance journalist Mark Scialla, who arrived in the country on a tourist visa on December 27, has been issued a leave India notice.
The Tuticorin police had questioned him on Sunday and continue to question anti-Sterlite activists he had met. Mr Scialla had also reportedly met family members of some of those who died in police firing against protesters in May last year.
"Mark had violated visa conditions. He was working on a documentary and an article on Sterlite impact. He would return via Hyderabad. We are also enquiring anti-Sterlite activists he met," district Superintendent of Police Murali Ramba told NDTV.
Claiming environmental and health violations by Sterlite, the state government had shut down the plant after the police firing against anti-Sterlite protesters that killed 13 people. The National Green Tribunal allowed Sterlite to reopen subject to compliance of norms and Rs 100 crore be spent for community development. The Madras High Court, however, has stayed the reopening. The state government has also filed a plea in the Supreme Court challenging the green court's nod.
Recently, Sterlite had announced a Rs 100 crore initiative to develop quality educational and health infrastructure in Tuticorin, hoping to reopen the plant. On Wednesday, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board refused to consider issuing consent to operate the plant, citing the state has filed an appeal in the Supreme Court.
The opposition has asked the ruling AIADMK to take a policy decision by the cabinet banning cooper smelting plants in the state.