Smoke billows out of burning vehicles after a violent protest demanding closure of Vedantas Sterlite Copper unit in Tuticorin on May 22, 2018. (Image: PTI)

Tamil Nadu Plant Complies With Environmental Norms, Says Sterlite Copper

After 11 people died in police firing during a protest against Vedanta Ltd. unit Sterlite Copper’s plant at Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu, the company said it complies with environmental norms.

Environmental concerns have been dealt with in various courts of law like the Supreme Court and the National Green Tribunal, Sterlite Copper Chief Executive Officer P Ramnath told BloombergQuint in an interview. “We have spent over Rs 500 crore for environmental mitigation in our facility.” State-of-the-art environment protection measures have been implemented, he added.

The plant is currently non-operational as it awaits approval for it. Consent to operate has not been renewed by the state Pollution Control Board, Ramnath said. “The company hopes to start the plant as soon as it gets a favourable verdict from the courts.” The next hearing is scheduled for June 6.

Also Read: Five Times Vedanta Triggered Environment Worries

Ramnath said allegations that Sterlite Copper is polluting the marine ecosystem and causing cancer among the people who live in the vicinity of the plant are “myths” being spread by a “nefarious” faction of protesters.

“Those are completely incorrect. If you see hard data then the rate of cancer in Tuticorin is much below the state average. And it is baseless to link Sterlite's operations to cancer,” he said. Tuticorin ranks 14th among males and 25th among females in 32 districts in the state in the incidence of cancer, he added, citing data published by the Tamil Nadu health department in 2014.

We are a zero liquid discharge company and do not affect the marine ecosystem in any manner. All wastewater is treated and then reused in the operations of the plant.
P Ramnath, CEO, Sterlite Copper

The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court today stayed construction of a new copper smelter by Sterlite Industries in the same district in Tamil Nadu, news agency ANI reported.

At least 12 people were killed, and several injured in police firing as the months-long protests against the closure of the Sterlite Copper unit turned violent yesterday.

Shares of Vedanta fell as much as 6 percent to Rs 253.7 apiece in trade today.

(Updates the death toll and adds more comments from Sterlite Copper CEO.)

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