The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) on Monday gave its green signal for production of oxygen at the shutdown Vedanta Ltd’s Sterlite copper smelter plant in Tuticorin, subject to certain caveats.
DMK’s Member of Parliament Kanimozhi participated at the all party meeting convened by the state government to discuss reopening of Vedanta’s copper smelter plant to manufacture oxygen to cater to the needs of Covid-19 patients.
The all party meeting was called in the wake of Supreme Court asking the Tamil Nadu government on its views to permit operation at Vedanta’s oxygen plant after a petition was filed by the company in this regard.
The apex court had asked the Tamil Nadu government whether it can operate the oxygen plant so that the Covid-19 patients can be saved.
Speaking at the all party meeting, Kanimozhi who was elected to Lok Sabha from the Tuticorin constituency, said the state government can submit the following to the apex court:
-Permission to be given only for the operation of the oxygen plant.
-A committee of District Collector, District Superintendent of Police, people welfare officer, environmentalists, social activists, anti-Sterlite protesters and people of Tuticorin should be set up to ensure only oxygen is produced.
-Permission to be given for a limited period of time.
-Power to be supplied only by the Tamil Nadu government and the company should not use its own power sources.
-Free supply of oxygen produced.
-The order allowing the company to produce oxygen should clearly specify that Vedanta cannot take this as a precedent to reopen its smelter plant.
Meanwhile MDMK General Secretary Vaiko in a statement said the Tamil Nadu government should take control of the plant and employ engineers from other state government undertakings to produce oxygen.
Vaiko also said the state government can hire the employees of Vedanta on contract basis and on no account company management be allowed to run the plant.
The Tamil Nadu government had ordered the closure of the copper smelter plant in 2018 following a violent protest that led to the death of 13 persons in police firing.
The 400,000 tonne Sterlite copper smelter plant that has been operating in Tuticorin for over 25 years with a cumulative investment of about Rs 3,000 crore.
However, from the start, the Sterlite copper smelter plant has been facing protests by the local people alleging that it pollutes the environment.
Originally the plant was planned in Goa but it faced severe opposition from the people therte. However, the AIADMK regime under J. Jayalalithaa gave a warm welcome to the project and allotted it land in Tuticorin.
Ever since then the plant was in the eye of storm with MDMK leader Vaiko leading a protest against the project and later filing a case.
The major political parties in Tamil Nadu — AIADMK and DMK — are against Vedanta’s copper smelter plant in Tuticorin.
The Supreme Court is hearing the case on an appeal filed by the company against the Madras High Court’s refusal to reopen the Sterlite copper smelter plant in Tuticorin.
The next hearing in the Supreme Court will be held in August.