Vedanta’s Sterlite Copper on Thursday said that it is hopeful of beginning the production at its smelter plant in Tuticorin district of Tamil Nadu in the next two months.
It said that it has already approached the TNPCB (Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board) for its consent to reopen the plant based on the recent NGT order, which directed the Board to issue its consent in three weeks’ time.
As part of NGT order as well to allay fears in the minds of common public at local level, Sterlite Copper also announced `100-crore investment in social infrastructure projects, including setting up of a new hospital, water desalination plant and youth skill development schemes, said P Ramnath, CEO, Sterlite Copper. “We require at least 500 people to reassess and set the things right inside the plant to enable us to start production,” he added.
Speaking to the reporters here, P Ramnath said: “We will abide by the court order and we will fight our case through legal route only. We are even open to dialogue with the state government and others concerned in this matter. We are hopeful that the truth will prevail at the end and we are confident of reopening the plant in the next two months.”
“As compared to six months ago, now local public have understood the reality and have started supporting us to reopen the plant at the earliest. We have been continuously holding ‘people connect’ programme for the last six months and allayed the fears in their minds. We even took feedback and suggestions and their requests to proceed further in and around the plant site. Accordingly, we have embarked upon 5 initiatives, including setting up of a hospital, holding skill development programmes, planting millions of trees, desal plant to supply water to villages in and around the plant site and smart school to provide quality education,” Ramnath said.
According to him, as ordered by NGT, the company has already set up a committee to monitor each and every project independently to ensure all developments take place at a faster place. “We are waiting for the positive response from the state government,” he said. Even if the state government moves SC against NGT order, we will fight it legally only, he said further.
Responding to volley of questions, Ramnath said, on an average the production loss per month is estimated to be around 30,000 tonne. “The copper demand is growing at 9% per annum. Since our plant closed six months ago, the sulphuric acid cost has gone up three times from `3,000 a tonne to `12,000 a tonne.
Similarly, phosphoric acid price has gone up from `45,000 a tonne to `55,000 a tonne and imports of copper premium has increased from 12,000 tonne a month to 30,000 tonne a month. Over the years, the company has invested around `600 crore on the environmental aspects and the plant is boast of one of the best production technologies, he pointed out.
He further said that due to closure of our factory, nearly 4,000 direct and contract jobs are at lost and around 25,000 indirect jobs are at stake. Nearly 1,000 trucks plying in Tuticorin for transporting goods from our factory to various places, including Tuticorin port have been left in the lurch for want of job. Many downstream industries involved in power cables, motors, electrical fittings (which require copper as raw material) are all facing difficult times over the last few months. Sterlite holds nearly 36% of the total market share in India.