TN govt shuts Sterlite plant, Vedanta says next action soon

Sterlite Copper, the Vedanta Group’s copper smelter plant in Thoothukudi, was sealed on Monday evening, shortly after the Tamil Nadu Environment and Forests Department issued a two-page Government Order for its permanent closure. Vedanta termed the decision unfortunate.

The government order endorsed the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board’s directive last week to close the unit citing constitutional provisions to protect and improve the environment, and in larger public interest.

Within an hour of the order announced on Monday afternoon, district officials of Thoothukudi, headed by Collector Sandeep Nanduri, arrived at the plant to seal the premises.

The Anil Agarwal-led company said it operated the plant in a transparent and sustainable way. “The closure of Sterlite Copper plant is an unfortunate development, especially since, we have operated the plant for over 22 years in most transparent and sustainable way, contributing to the Tuticorin and State’s socio-economic development. We will study the order and decide on the future course of action,” Vedanta said in a statement.

The Tamil Nadu government’s decision Monday to shut down Vedanta Limited’s copper plant at Tuticorin, which accounts for a 40 per cent share in India’s annual copper production of 10 lakh tonnes, could have a downstream impact on around 800 small and medium units in the electrical sector.

Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami told journalists: “The Amma government has issued an order to have the Sterlite plant closed down permanently in deference to the sentiments of the people of Thoothukudi.”

In a post on microblogging site Twitter, Ramnath P, CEO of Sterlite Copper, wrote “halting a big industry like Sterlite Copper has serious implications on the economy.”