Chennai: Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) chief Kamal Haasan said that his party has started preparing for the 2019 general elections but declined to speak on possibilities of forming an alliance with other parties.

Haasan has been touring Tamil Nadu as part of his efforts to strengthen his new party.

Asked if he would go it alone or ally with other parties for next year's Lok Sabha elections and by-polls to 20 Assembly constituencies in Tamil Nadu, he said, "Such things cannot be said now, and it cannot be disclosed to the media. Some sections of the media are imagining things."

The MNM leader, before his visit to the villages hit by Cyclone Gaja in November, told reporters at the Chennai airport, "We will do only what is good for the people."

Eighteen assembly constituencies were declared vacant following the disqualification of rebel AIADMK legislators. Two more seats became vacant after the death of legislators M Karunanidhi (Tiruvarur) and AK Bose (Tiruparankundram).

Meanwhile, on the Sterlite cooper plant issue, Haasan sought "firm steps" to ensure continued closure of the plant. He said a government should respect people's views.

However, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Saturday set aside the Tamil Nadu government's April closure order of mining firm Vedanta's copper unit Sterlite in Thoothukudi. Chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami has said the NGT order will be challenged in the Supreme Court.

On the contrary, P Ramnath, CEO of the Sterlite copper plant had claimed that the unit had adhered to all conditions specified by NEERI.

Meanwhile, fishermen from the area have claimed that they were allegedly 'brainwashed' into staging protest in front of the district collector’s office demanding closure of the plant. The demonstration led to police firing on the crowd, resulting in the death of 13 people.

It was alleged that Makkal Adhikaram group, which had earlier too staged protest against other big-infra projects including Kudankulam nuclear power plant, had  influenced the fishermen into protesting against the plant.

Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sangangalin Peramaippu, (Federation of Tamil Nadu traders’ associations) also welcomed the company’s proposal to double the capacity of its copper smelting plant to eight lakh tonnes per annum. They said it would result in the regional industrial growth and increase employment opportunities.

The protest and closure demand would mean 32,500 people losing their jobs and struggling to make ends meet. Now, with the NGT order, the workers can heave a sigh of relief and continue to be breadwinners for their families.