In view of the oxygen shortage in the state, the Tamil Nadu Government has sanctioned the partial re-opening of the Sterlite copper smelting plant for the production of oxygen. The plant was closed in 2018 following a huge protest amongst the locals in view of the environmental pollution the plant was contributing towards.
Sterlite Re-starts In A Limited Way
The Tamil Nadu Government gave permission for the re-opening of the Vedanta-owned Sterlite copper smelting plant for four months, purely with the purpose of producing oxygen. Copper production will strictly be prohibited in the plant and emphasized that it was in no way permission to re-open the plant as a whole. The Government will appoint a panel that will closely look after the functioning of the plant. This decision was taken earlier today after an all-party meeting where MK Stalin's President, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, suggested that Sterlite should be providing free oxygen to the state of Tamil Nadu. DMK leader Kanimozhi who is also the MP from Thoothukudi district where the plant is located said that the panel which is to be appointed for monitoring the oxygen production and functioning of the plant should consist of the locals who had earlier protested against the copper production. Vedanta released a statement in which it said it was committed to making the entire capacity of 1,000 tonnes of producing medical-grade oxygen. And to dispatch it to critical areas in Tamil Nadu on priority and across the country.
Painful Memories Resurface
In 2018, 17 protesters were killed in a police firing which the CBI is still probing. After the Madras High Court refused to accept Vedanta's plea to reopen the Sterlite plant, the Supreme Court also rejected the same last year, reported NDTV. In the midst of the huge surge in Covid cases, Tamil Nadu falls short of oxygen. On Sunday, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, E. Palaniswami, wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the urgent cancellation of oxygen supply from Tamil Nadu to other states. This comes from Tamil Nadu, a state which has never before imposed any restrictions on the transport of oxygen to any neighbouring states. The state has reported being witnessing a large number of active cases which are dependent on oxygen, making the oxygen requirement of the state to be 450 metric tonnes (MTs) which exceeds the state's oxygen production capacity.