Chennai: Ruling and opposition political parties in Tamil Nadu on Monday gave up their tough stand against Vedanta’s Sterlite Copper smelting plant in Thoothukudi district and agreed to allow resumption of medical oxygen production at the unit temporarily for four months considering the grim situation across the country due to the outbreak of COVID-19 second wave. The plant was sealed in May 2018, after 13 protesters were gunned down by the police, following violence demanding the closure of the unit on charges of pollution.
At an all-party meeting convened by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami at the Secretariat – against the backdrop of the Supreme Court seeking the State’s view on allowing oxygen production – it was unanimously resolved that the oxygen production alone be permitted for four months. The period may be extended thereafter depending on the prevailing ground reality.
An official release said that it was decided at the meeting that oxygen generated from the plant would be supplied to other States only after Tamil Nadu’s requirement for medical oxygen was fulfilled.
The resolution made it clear that Vedanta would not be permitted to manufacture copper at any cost or operate its other units on the premises.
The State Government would also constitute a monitoring committee to oversee the plant’s oxygen production operations and safety measures. The monitoring committee would be headed by the Thoothukudi District Collector and comprise among others the Superintendent of Police, Sub Collector, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board engineers, representatives of the local public and environmental experts. Three anti-Sterlite activists would also be part of the committee.