Protesters demand reopening of Sterlite Copper Plant

Business News, September 03, 2022

About 20 people led by Murugan, Secretary, Pro-Sterlite Foundation, led by SP Singh Baghel, Minister of State for Law and Justice; Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change; And Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman demanded the reopening of the Sterlite Copper Smelting Plant in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu.

Federation of thousands, consisting of truck owners, truck drivers, raw material suppliers, contractors, women self-help groups and others dependent on the plant, a petition for a speedy solution to reopen the plant. The urgency arose from over 15,000 families who lost their livelihoods since the closure of the plant. These include port workers, lorry drivers, contract workers and single-earner women.

“We have been suffering for more than four years since the closure of the Sterlite plant, and our livelihood has been badly affected,” the memorandum said.

It also said that the bandh was due to “planned agitation by outsiders”. Hence we have formed a Pro-Sterlite Plant Federation to prove that the propaganda and misinformation by anti-Sterlite groups in Thoothukudi is not true.

The protesters also met secretaries in the finance ministry, including ministers of state and cabinet, ministers of state and cabinet in the ministry of environment, forest and climate change, and ministers of state and law and justice.

Pro-Sterlite protesters from Tamil Nadu’s Pandarampatti, Shankarperi, Melavitan, Madathur, Kummareddiyarpuram, Naduvakurichi, Rajavinkovil, Purpandiyapuram, Silanatham villages took to the streets shouting slogans in favor of the copper smelting plant after Sterlite Copper invited expressions of interest Were. EOI) from potential buyers for its controversial Thoothukudi unit.

The EOI was published in National and Regional Papers on June 2022.

Several petitions have been submitted to chief ministers and state offices requesting the reopening of a vital employment generator plant in the region before it was shut down on environmental pollution charges.

“The copper plant was the main source of income for our family. Since its closure, we have struggled to find a good job in the local area. One has to travel far in search of work. Still, it is difficult for us to survive as the cost of living is high in big cities, and we are paid minimum wages,” said one of the protesters

With an annual capacity of 4 lakh tonnes of copper production, the Thoothukudi plant owned by Vedanta contributed 40 per cent to the country’s demand for refined copper. After the closure of this unit, India’s copper exports fell by 90 percent, and it became an importer of copper for the first time in 18 years. The country is now importing copper worth $2 billion and incurring an export deficit of over $1.5 billion, resulting in an overall loss of ₹20,000 crore to the economy.

Not only this, but due to the widespread use of copper and its by-products in various industries, the closure of the plant has crippled many other small and large scale enterprises, creating a huge gap between the demand and supply of the commodity. It is done. Sterlite was the only domestic supplier of phosphoric acid in the country, an essential raw material for fertilisers. In addition, the Thoothukudi plant was also the largest supplier of sulfuric acid in the state, a chemical used in the detergent and chemical industries. After the closure of the plant, the prices of both the chemicals have increased.

The plant was the only indigenous phosphoric acid provider and important slag and gypsum supplier to about 20 cement companies. Downstream players relied on the plant to procure five raw materials: gypsum, sulfuric acid, phosphoric acid, copper cathode and copper rod. After the closure of the plant, the allied industries dependent on the Sterlite plant faced a lot of difficulties in terms of cost of procurement of raw materials.

A report by the Jaipur-based Consumer Unity and Trust Society, funded by NITI Aayog and the Government of India, titled, “Economic Impact of Selected Judgments of the Supreme Court and the National Green Tribunal of India: Synthetic Reports”. The closure of the plant resulted in loss of Rs 14,794 crore to the stakeholders, indirect and direct job loss of 30,000 workers.

Between May 2018 and May 2021, the government suffered a loss of Rs 491 crore for all downstream industries, in addition to a total tax deficit of Rs 7,641.86 crore.

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