Anti-LPG terminal protesters lathi-charged at Putuvype, 20 hospitalisedtext_fields
Kochi: At least 20 people were injured when police lathi-charged those protesting against the LPG import terminal project near here when they allegedly tried to breach a security cordon and storm the site.
The protesters of Putuvype, who have intensified their agitation against the Indian Oil Corporations project since last week, alleged scores of people, including women and children, were injured in the "brutal" police action.
The police said at least 20 people have been admitted to Ernakulam District General Hospital, where doctors said the condition of three with head injuries was serious.
Opposition parties condemned the police lathicharge with the Congress calling for a day-long hartal in the locality tomorrow.
In a related development, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan decided to hold a meeting with all stakeholders on June 21 at his office in Thiruvananthapuram to discuss the issue, officials said today.
Citing the Chief Ministers intervention, the Indian Oil Corporation announced temporary suspension of the work on the project.
In a release, District Collector K Mohammed Y Safirulla referred to the IOCs decision and urged the people to withdraw their agitation.
"As the ground for further protest does not exist, the protesters are asked to withdraw their protest," he said.
Leader of Opposition in Kerala Assembly Ramesh Chennithala described as "brutal" todays police action against the protesters.
The protesters demanded action against police for using force against them while they were staging a "peaceful protest".
The residents of Puthuvype have been up in arms for the past four months against the LPG terminal and storage project in the densely populated area, raising safety concerns.
The work on the facility was stalled for several days recently following intensified protest by people under the banner of "LPG Terminal Virudha Janakyeeya Samara Samiti" near the work site. They have alleged violation of environmental norms.
The police were last week directed by the Ernakulam district administration to provide protection to the site.
Besides, the Kerala High Court had recently ordered that the terminal, functioning in the Special Economic Zone in Puthuvype, should be provided police protection.
Vijayan had earlier held a meeting with the protesters and appealed to them not to prevent the ongoing works at the terminal.
The district administration has said the LPG terminal and storage facilities had received all clearances from various agencies, including the Environment Ministry.