CHENNAI: Vedanta Ltd on Friday said it was working with regulatory authorities to expedite restart of operations at its copper smelter plant at Thoothukudi, which the State government in May ordered permanent closure after 13 protestors, who were demanding its shutdown on environmental concerns, died in police firing.
In its Annual Report 2017-18, Vedanta Ltd said, “At Tuticorin, our copper smelting operations were shut at the end of March, initially for scheduled maintenance activities. The shutdown has since been extended as the company’s annual renewal of its consent to operate was rejected by the Tamil Nadu State Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), pending additional clarifications.”
Vedanta has already moved National Green Tribunal (NGT) challenging the closure order and the tribunal has sought response from the State government and TNPCB.Vedanta has also put out a separate note on operation in Thoothukudi, which noted that the protests by communities living around the Sterlite Copper plant were based on misinformation around the perceived pollution caused by the plant.
“The fears stem from historic incidents, for which the company received legal sanctions in 2013. However, it has since taken corrective measures to ensure that incidents of pollution are not repeated and the plant now operates well within regulatory limits for air emissions. It is also a zero liquid-discharge operation, which means that there is no possibility of effluents polluting local water sources,” the note said.
Vedanta said the company was working with communities as well as the regulatory bodies to arrive at a solution to the questions raised. “We are mindful that pollution will remain a key issue in the region, which is an industry cluster with more than 60 manufacturing units (including thermal power plants, dyeing units and other large-, medium- and small-scale industries), and we would like to play a key role in reaching long-term solutions that incorporate the views of all stakeholders. We are committed to running our operations responsibly and our door remains open for dialogue,” the note says.