Vedanta offers to produce oxygen at shut Sterlite plant

Vedanta offers to produce oxygen at its closed Sterlite plant in Tamil Nadu's Thoothukudi

The company has also moved the Supreme Court seeking its permission to produce oxygen at the smelter, which was closed in mid-March 2018

Sterlite Copper's staff stand prepared to get these plants to operationalise in the shorter possible time and begin dispatching oxygen to the critical areas, said Sterlite Copper CEO Pankaj Kumar. Credit: Reuters File Photo

Vedanta-owned Sterlite Copper wants to restart production at its two oxygen plants in the now-closed copper smelter at Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu to bridge the gap between the demand and supply owing to the second wave of Covid-19 infection.

Besides writing to Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, the company has also moved the Supreme Court seeking its permission to produce oxygen at the smelter, which was closed in mid-March 2018.

In the letter to the Union Health Minister, Sterlite Copper CEO Pankaj Kumar said the company's plant in Thoothukudi contains two oxygen plants with a combined capacity of producing 1,000 tons of oxygen daily.

Read: Tatas importing two dozen cryogenic tankers for oxygen supply amid Covid-19 surge

“We would like to now offer these facilities for your use, towards ensuring that there is no lack of the vital commodity in the nation, and also to join hands with the commendable efforts of our PM at this critical juncture,” Kumar wrote in the letter.

He said Sterlite Copper's staff stand prepared to get these plants to operationalise in the shorter possible time and begin dispatching oxygen to the critical areas.

Kumar's letter to Palaniswami was also identical, expressing the company's interest to pitch in to solve the crisis that has erupted due to shortage of oxygen.

Read: JSW Steel to supply 400 tonnes oxygen: Murugesh Nirani

Sterlite Copper was closed down by the Tamil Nadu government in 2018 following months of protests by locals and activists which was overturned by the National Green Tribunal the same year. The state government approached the Supreme Court seeking a stay on the NGT order.

The apex court stayed the order of the NGT and allowed Sterlite Copper to approach the Madras High Court, which upheld the government order. The case is now in the Supreme Court with Sterlite Copper challenging the Madras High Court verdict. The company's plea to access the plant for maintenance purpose has not been entertained by the court so far.

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