Sterlite will take two months to reopen: CEO Ramnath

The National Green Tribunal, five days ago, had delivered its judgment setting aside Tamil Nadu Government's closure order in May.

Chennai: Vedanta’s Sterlite CEO P. Ramnath on Thursday said the copper smelter plant at Tuticorin will take at least two months to open after getting a clearance from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) and the State government.

Talking to reporters in Chennai, the CEO said following the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order which allowed the reopening of the plant, they had approached the TNPCB and the Tamil Nadu government seeking permission for re-opening the plant, which was closed through a GO after anti-Sterlite protests turned violent, resulting in the death of 13 people in police firing on May 22.

The National Green Tribunal, five days ago, had delivered its judgment setting aside Tamil Nadu Government’s closure order in May. It had directed the state pollution control board to renew Sterlite Copper’s Consent to Operate, a key licence to run the factory, within three weeks. “We need to be given permission for entry and the upkeep of the factory need to be ascertained. I would estimate about two months as a time required to start producing again, once all legal hurdles are cleared,” Ramnath said.

Appreciating the unbiased NGT order, Ramnath said that the GO was based on technicalities, which were not grounds for closure. “All our sulphuric acid is being used to make fertilisers. Tests also show that copper slag is not leachable, nor is it hazardous. It can be used for landfills,” he said.

The NGT, on the December 15 order noted that the company was willing to spend Rs 100 crore for the welfare of people of Thoothukudi. NGT directed Sterlite to spend the amount of Rs. 100 Crores within a period of three years. Announcing their plan of action for the same, Ramnath said that a smart school, a world-class hospital will be constructed. “Thoothukudi has a severe water crisis, for this, a desalination plant will be constructed. Further, several youth development schemes will also be initiated,” he said.

To arrive at the above five plans, Sterlite officials conducted immersion programmes with at least 1500 families. A programmed called ‘Ungaludan Naan- Ungalukkaga Sterlite’ was initiated. “We have an already running skill development programme called Tamara Mutthukal. Everyone who enrols in this program is guaranteed employment. further, there is a daily health van which takes a round of two villages a day,” Ramnath said.

Responding to a question on Vedanta accessing the NGT order even before it was released, Ramnath said that they were not aware of it. “ I hear a case has been filed. Let them proceed, the truth will come out,” he concluded.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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