Sterlite Workers: ‘Anil Agarwal Can’t Undo Our Pain. Where Do We Go From Here

Thoothukudi: On the outskirts of this coastal city in Tamil Nadu, 34-year-old Karthiban has gone into a deep depression. Sitting crouched on a stone slab, frantically chewing fingernails on his left hand, he says: “I tried. I tried to live. But I needed to die, and dying is better than living without my right hand”.Karthiban got injured in 2017 while working at Sterlite’s copper plant here. After working for four years in the plant, his medical expenses were covered by ESI (Employees’ State Insurance) payments, but his long wait for a pension of Rs 5,000 that he is entitled to, continues. The amount is a pittance compared with his loss, but even that is nowhere in sight. “After losing my hand, I still haven’t received any compensation. I waited and repeatedly asked the company. They would tell me to come later, over and over again,” he says. To add to his woes, Karthiban’s wife, who also worked at the factory, is now without a job after the Tamil Nadu government ordered the plant’s closure on May 28.The state government ordered the factory, owned by London-based Vedanta Resources, to permanently shut down following last week’s police firing in which 13 people protesting against environmental pollution.