Sterlite says “external forces” were responsible for copper factory woes

They were opposed to expansion plans, said COO A. Sumathi

Sterlite Copper’s COO, A. Sumathi, claimed on Thursday that “outside forces” were responsible for problems at the Thoothukudi copper smelter, which ultimately led to a mass protest and gunfire. police in which 13 people were killed. This led to the closure of the plant in May 2018.

“They were opposed to the expansion of the plant,” said Ms. Sumathi, who has worked at the company for 25 years. At this point, the company was planning to increase its capacity from 4 lakh tonnes to 8 lakh tonnes, and the exchanges were made aware of the plan.

According to her, as soon as this news appeared, “these external forces were meeting with local populations and NGOs” from February 2018. When asked who these external forces were, she replied that the matter was before the authorities. courts, that would not be appropriate. that she disclose the details.

Asked about pollution and other issues, Ms Sumathi said there were issues before 2013 but nothing emerged after 2013. “The technology used was the best and the factory followed international standards.”

She said local people want the factory to reopen because the economy in that region contracted after it closed. “Closure is not the solution. We are open to dialogues that will help us improve operations. Constructive dialogue is the solution, ”she said.

According to her, the main pollution problem in Thoothukudi was not sulfur dioxide; it was the dust levels. She said this came out of a study conducted by the Center for Climate Change and Adaptation Research, Anna University. The study, she said, pointed out that PM10 mainly came from mineral dust containing silica due to the resuspension of road dust.

Since its closure, the Sterlite copper factory in Thoothukudi has suffered a loss of ₹ 5 crore per day. A lot of water entered the plant during the recent rain. Ms Sumathi said it would take 800 crore to 1,000 crore to reorganize the plant, if and when the authorization came.

Shirlene J. Manley