Sterlite Copper expects to reopen Tuticorin plant in next few months

New Delhi: Sterlite Copper on Wednesday expressed hope that it will resume operations in the next couple of months at its Tutocrin plant which was shut after 13 people died during protests a year ago.

On 22 May, 2018, anti-Sterlite protests turned violent with the agitators fighting pitched battles with the police and 13 people were killed in police firing.

The first anniversary of the incident was observed in Tuticorin on Wednesday, with scores of locals turning up to remember the victims.

"We are hopeful of starting the plant in next couple of months," Sterlite Copper CEO Pankaj Kumar told PTI over phone.

The protesters were demanding the closure of Vedanta's Sterlite Copper unit in Tuticorin over pollution concerns.

 Sterlite Copper expects to reopen Tuticorin plant in next few months

File image of Sterlite Copper Plant in Thoothukudi. Reuters

Kumar, however, was of the view that "high current was created by some vested interests to show that we are not complying to the environment. But the fact is that we are much below the standard set up by pollution control board."

He further said the company has incurred financial losses to the tune of $400 million till date due to the closure of operations at its smelter unit at Tuticorin.

"More than our loss, it is the country's loss," he said.

Earlier in the month during a conference call, Vedanta's Chief Executive Officer Kuldip Kaura had said, "As you are aware, the consent to operate at Tuticorin was not approved and we have engaged with the authorities with the responses to some of the questions which they raised and we believe the resolution for this should happen soon."

Vedanta had said its operations at Tuticorin were shut as its application for renewal of consent to operate has not been approved.

"We are working with the regulatory body to provide the required clarifications in order to obtain a positive outcome for our application," the company said.

The victims were Wednesday remembered by their near and dear ones and others who lit candles before their portraits.

The National Green Tribunal later allowed the opening of the copper unit, but the Supreme Court had on 18 February set aside the order. It, however, gave liberty to Sterlite to approach the high court against the closure order.

Last month, the Tamil Nadu government opposed in the Madras High Court a plea of Sterlite Industries seeking the appointment of an independent committee to inspect its copper smelter unit in Tuticorin which has been closed permanently over pollution concerns.

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Updated Date: May 22, 2019 18:22:30 IST