The closure of Vedanta Ltd’s copper smelter in Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu, more than two years ago has forced the country to spend $ 2 billion on copper imports, said one of the top companies.
Madras High Court had earlier this month refused to allow the reopening of the facility, which was closed in May 2018 after 13 people died when police fired on protesters during demonstrations against pollution that were allegedly violent.
“The government itself had lost $ 2 billion in forex, which was something like Rs 15,000 crore a year … So say Rs 35,000-40,000 crore in this two and a half year period of importing copper, as we otherwise would have produced, ”Sterlite Copper CEO Pankaj Kumar told PTI.
The closure of the plant resulted in a monetary loss of around Rs 6,000 crore for the company, he said.
“Yes, the loss is huge. I mean, one is a monetary loss and the other loss is the one that can not make money. For example, the financial loss for the company is one where we lost, I want to say something about Rs 6,000 crore, “maybe in the last two and a half years … Plus we spent about Rs 600 crore near Thoothukudi … using salaries, in some input materials, etc. that have reached zero. So the people here (about 50,000) have suffered their livelihoods because of our closure, ”he said.
He went on to claim that the shutdown of the plant had resulted in “negative sentiment.” “I’m not sure many investors would like to invest in Tamil Nadu, especially given the scenario and the way the plant was closed,” he said.
“The Prime Minister is talking about Aatmanirbhar Bharat and he is talking about being self-sufficient and here we have a factory that produced 40 percent of India’s copper and suddenly (it is) out … you have the people importing the same amount of material outside, so our self-sufficiency goes to a throw, ”he said.
However, the District Collector of Thoothudkudi District Sandeep Nanduri said that all the points made by the company make no sense because they have already been argued in court.
Everything has already been argued before the Supreme Court, and the same set of arguments has already been put forward there. And the judgment of the Honorable Supreme Court is very clear. This is the reason one by one … it has maintained the order of the government and all the reasons mentioned for the closure … So it is clear that the reasons are there, which are very clear … The court also says an important point … that environmental considerations always have an advantage.
“Just because it (the plant) contributes or is part of the development does not mean that it should pollute … All the points (made by the company) have no meaning because it has already been argued in court itself, Said Nanduri.
Vedanta had approached Madras High Court in February 2019 and tried to reopen the Sterlite plant, which was closed following an order issued on May 23, 2018 by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Committee (TNPCB) following violent protests against the unit, which left 13 people died in police firing.
It had filed the petition to the High Court as proposed by the Supreme Court, which on 18 February 2019 had overturned the National Green Tribunal order allowing the opening of the Sterlite plant.