A day after the Sterlite’s copper smelter plant here was shut for violating pollution control norms, close to 1,500 workers of the unit, along with their families petitioned the Collector on Sunday, demanding that the unit be immediately reopened.
The district administration ordered the closure of the plant on Saturday, based on the recommendations of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), for violating pollution control norms and releasing excess sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere on March 23, which was said to triggered health problems for the local populace.
Demanding an immediate solution to the ongoing imbroglio, the plant’s workers said that their livelihood depended on the administration’s decision.
Since the Collector was not present, the workers approached tahsildar in-charge Ramasamy, who initially refused to accept their petition saying that he was not authorised to do so. However, at the behest of rural DSP Narayanan -- who reportedly reasoned that his refusal could create disturbances among the workers who had assembled at the collectorate -- Ramasamy eventually accepted the petition and assured the workers that he would forward it to the authority concerned.
If the plant remained shut, over two lakh families would be affected directly and indirectly, the workers rued. The petition stated that Sterlite had committed itself to the highest standard of safety and spent more than `500 crore towards the protection of the environment.