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“Ban Sterlite” – The Voice Unheard

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Ban Sterlite,” was a voice unheard!
Years ago, when it all began
When a copper giant set Sterlite up
To dig the grounds of Tuticorin

TNPCB gave the “consent to establish
Though it did not fall into the norms
Also said, “Let’s cut down by one-tenth
the forest cover and fuck some norms

Ban Sterlite,” was a voice unheard
Years later, after it all began
As cough and cold and cancer even
crept insidiously into Tuticorin

Ban Sterlite,” was a voice unheard
Years later, after they found
elements and toxic waste that come
from “Sterlite” were profound

Ban Sterlite,” was a voice unheard
Months later, When Scientists said
that these smelters not only
smelt metal but also life in Tuticorin

Then the High Court ordered a closure
To be only revoked, by the Supreme one
Funny, though true! it agreed upon
The hazards that threatened one’s lives

But, Brutus is an honourable man
And he delivered, that the revenue
Was too good to shut down the plant
And what if it did endanger lives?!

Compensation” is the word of law
One can pollute the region as he likes
I am fine, as long as he pays some bucks
Said, Oh – my Brutus, the honourable man.

Ban Sterlite,” was a voice unheard
Though the issue started floating in air
And then the giant planned to expand
And double the production of copper

Why won’t he? As this was the cheapest
setup that he had, all over the world
Why wouldn’t it be? As we don’t regulate
him, In India from emitting toxic waste

Oh! I forgot that there were these boards
In India to regulate pollution and waste
But they wont mind giving me a clearance
For they don’t deny a thing – their etiquette

They had to conduct a public hearing
But, MoEFCC was generous to exempt
As it was located in the SIPCOT complex
But little did it know that it was not

Can’t blame our boards for it’s their etiquette.
It appeared that these were farming lands
And more and more of concealed facts
But, they won’t mind for they don’t deny.

Protests erupted all over the place
One could see people’s eyes ablaze
It went on and on for a 100 days
Not even a notice fell into their place

There were men, women and children
At roads, for about three months in a row
Ban Sterlite,” was their only voice
Other than that, they had made no noise

On the 100th day, they wanted to picket
The Collector s office, as they got vexed
Of waiting for ninety-nine days
They wanted a response, at least a notice

An 144 was issued the previous day
By Mr Fleabottom who had flown his way
Already to a lair, safe and sound
Easily forgetting to stay dutybound

To picket as planned, they marched to his office
Little did they know, what was to follow
Agitations slowly turned to violence
And the police began their crowd control

Tear gases, lathi charges did no good
For them, as the people were so stubborn
On their cause and demanded only the ban
Of Sterlite, amidst all of that they suffered

None of the state expected
What was about to happen next
Like as if they were playing a lyre
The police personnel opened fire

Turning waters from red to brown
Cops killed people before copper could
A 17-year-old shot through the mouth
Depicted that intentions were no good

A Cop is seen standing in Civil dress over a truck, taking aim at the protestors using a Self Loaded Rifle.

Zero protocol was the song of the day
As they gave no prior warnings away
They did not open fire out to the sky
Nor did they shoot on the ground, they say

All that it hit was the chest and the head
Of those select protestors who had lead
These were no rebel or mutiny troops
But those who had raised their voice against pollutes

Would you believe? When they deliver
All they did was just crowd control
When they did not use rubber pellets
But self-loaded rifles and real bullets

At least shoot one to death,” was the call
And they really did well to shoot a dozen
These were not any misfire or aborts
But well-positioned long range shots

All they had asked for was a good habitat
So that they could lead a morbidity-free life
But they had been shot with bullets
And lay down with their dreams, now dead

Now, they make a joke that it was out of defence
That they had shot ppl with AK- 47s
Yes, you heard it right about the rifle used
And this is how they gave the penance

Did any news not come from intelligence?
Or was this an exhibit of incompetence
Rather, what was to be more explicit
was the fact that they were all complicit

This was truly a bloody massacre
In the name of Vedanta, the copper giant
Though I cannot deny – he was a baker
Of charms in the lives of the politicians

How pitiful is it to make a killer choice
And pull the trigger at those who raised their voice
Do the Centre and State have no mercy
Or has it already become a plutocracy?

Ban Sterlite,” the voice has not died
For their demand is still unshaken
Even when their kith and kin had died
They refused to take bodies, if unheard

Ban Sterlite,” was still a voice unheard
Even in the aftermath of this massacre
For all that they had received
Was one more lathi charge and bullets

Netas labelled them easily as nefarious
And they had no concern for their lives
When they had said that it was bound
to happen in case of fringe elements

No one dared to speak a word that assured
That the company shall be inevitably closed
One even said that these deaths were certain
as their party had no votes in the state of TN

Ban Sterlite,” the voice had not gone faint
Even a little, despite all the woeful cries
But still unheard, it is to the deaf ears
That do not hear out a single lament

Ban Sterlite,” is the voice unheard
Why would it be? If even bullets
Don’t disturb anyone’s slumber
For its no real sleep, but clear pretence

Oh! Please do not, Mr Drama Queen
Lend your ears, you are now a fitness freak
It’s work out month, what if someone dies
All that you need to worry is how to be fit

I wish there was a fitness test to see
If you were anything more than a drama queen
Oh! Please do not lend your voice
We can hear your silence out so loud

Ban Sterlite,” is a voice unheard
And unheard, it will always be
In this age of plutocracy
what else to expect, but simply be!

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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