Thoothukudi: Sterlite applies for consent to operate

The NGT had on December 15 termed as “non-sustainable” and “unjustified” the government order and directed restoration of electricity supply to the factory for resuming of operations.

Vedanta-owned Sterlite Copper has applied for fresh Consent to Operate (CoT) its now-shut Thoothukudi plant with the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) and plans to throw open the smelter in two months after necessary maintenance work.

The move by Sterlite Copper comes within days of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) setting aside an order of the Tamil Nadu government closing the massive plant in Thoothukudi in May this year following violent protests against the expansion plans of the company that resulted in the death of 13 people due to police firing.

The NGT had on December 15 termed as “non-sustainable” and “unjustified” the government order and directed restoration of electricity supply to the factory for resuming of operations.

“We have already approached TNPCB for a fresh Consent to Operate for our (Thoothukudi) plant,” Sterlite Copper P Ramnath told media persons. TNPCB is the statutory board that gives CoT to factories and it was based on a report by the environment watchdog that the Tamil Nadu government closed Sterlite Copper early this year.

While imposing a slew of conditions like monitoring the groundwater regularly, the NGT had directed the TNPCB to pass fresh order of renewal of consent within three weeks.

Answering a volley of questions on when the plant would be opened subject to the grant of CoT by TNPCB, Ramnath said they should first be given access to the factory where massive maintenance work needs to be carried out.

“We have not been to the plant for the past six months and there has been no one there. So, obviously lot of maintenance work needs to be carried out and we hope to do them once we get access,” he said. Asked to give a specific time-frame for the launching of operations after granting of access, Ramnath said it would take nearly two months for all maintenance work to be completed.

Though Sterlite has applied for a fresh CoT, the TNPCB is likely to wait for the Tamil Nadu government’s decision on an appeal against the NGT order before the Supreme Court.

Ramnath also announced that the company has decided to plant 1 million saplings, construct a water desalination plant and launch youth development schemes for the people of Thoothukudi.

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Thoothukudi: Sterlite applies for consent to operate

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