We won’t shift the Thoothukudi plant to another State in haste: Anil Agarwal


Despite facing several legal and political hurdles in reopening the Sterlite Copper smelting plant at Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu, Anil Agarwal, Chairman of Vedanta group is still betting on starting the plant in the same location rather than moving it to another State. 

“We have received interest from a number of States to relocate the plant but we have huge employment at Thoothukudi, we have not retrenched a single person. We are waiting for the Supreme Court’s verdict and we are hoping for a positive verdict,”  Agarwal told BusinessLine.

The plant was closed in May 2018 following an order by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board over pollution concerns. The TNPCB ordered the closure of the plant permanently after 13 anti-Sterlite protestors were shot in police firing.  Agarwal said the protests were instigated by international vested interests who do not want India to produce copper. “There was propaganda by vested interest otherwise local people are supporting the project by and large. I am not worried about the local aspects at all” Agarwal said.  

Loses ₹4,000 cr on shutdown

 The plant closure was challenged by the company in Madras High Court, however, the court refused to allow the reopening of the plant.  The case is now pending in Supreme Court. Having invested over ₹3,000 crore in the plant, the company has lost ₹4,000 crore since its shutdown.  It employed 4,397 people directly and benefited over 17,000 people, representing various stakeholders such as product makers, transporters and suppliers. 

Last year, Vedanta announced its plans to set up a copper smelter plant in a coastal region in India and invited Expression of Interest from State governments who wish to partner with the company. When asked if the option to shift the factory to another State is being considered, Agarwal said “While coastal States such as Andhra Pradesh are interested in the project we don’t want to do anything in haste. We can go to another state but we have been in Thoothukudi for over 20 years. We like the people there and we have the trust of the local people.” 

Published on

April 24, 2022

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