The closure of Vedanta's Sterlite Copper unit in Tamil Nadu has led to rise in import of copper worth USD 2 billion and export loss of over USD 1.5 billion, resulting in an overall loss of Rs 20,000 crore to the economy, a top company official today said.
The closure of Vedanta’s Sterlite Copper unit in Tamil Nadu has led to rise in import of copper worth USD 2 billion and export loss of over USD 1.5 billion, resulting in an overall loss of Rs 20,000 crore to the economy, a top company official today said. The statement comes amid National Green Tribunal(NGT) refusing to grant any interim relief to Vedanta, which has challenged Tamil Nadu government’s order to permanently shut down the unit.
The state government had in May ordered the pollution control board to seal and “permanently” close the plant, following violent protests over pollution concerns. “Closure of Sterlite Copper has resulted in increased import of copper worth USD 2 billion and export loss of over USD 1.5 billion — overall loss of Rs 20,000 crore to the economy,” Sterlite Copper CEO P Ramnath told PTI.
He said, before the closure, the company was supplying 250,000 tonne per annum of copper to the domestic market and added that “most of the customers have to import now”. Before the shutdown, the company exported around 150,000-160,000 tonne per annum of copper. The closure has also resulted in steep rise in prices of sulphuric acid and phosphoric acid.
Post shutdown, prices of sulphuric acid have spiked from Rs 4,000 per tonne to Rs 15,000 per tonne. “The price of phosphoric acid has also increased by 20-25 per cent,” he added. In April, the state pollution control board had rejected Sterlite’s plea to renew the Consent To Operate certification, saying the company had not complied with the stipulated conditions. Following this, the government had issued a permanent closure notice to the plant.
Vedanta’s plea in NGT sought permission to operate the unit and a direction to declare as unlawful and illegal the exercise of powers by the state government in passing the closure order under section 18(1)(b) of the Water Act. Sterlite Copper had first made headlines in March, 2013, when a gas leak led to the death of one person and injured several others, after which the then chief minister J Jayalalithaa had ordered its closure.
The company had then appealed to NGT, which had overturned the government order. The state had then moved the Supreme Court against it and the case is still pending. The apex court had then ordered the company to pay Rs 100 crore as compensation for polluting environment.