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Vedanta gets Tamil Nadu okay to reopen plant for oxygen production

The company said the TN government does not have the expertise and financial ability to run the oxygen plant.

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ILNS: The Tamil Nadu government on Monday permitted Vedanta Limited to reopen its Sterlite plant in Tuticorin/Thoothukudi for producing oxygen for four months under the supervision of the District Collector. This is to make up for the oxygen needs of the country during Covid-19 times.

Earlier on Monday, Vedanta had opposed the proposal of the Apex Court to allow the Tamil Nadu government to operate the company’s oxygen plant.

In an additional affidavit, Vedanta stated the oxygen plant needed manpower of 45 trained personnel to operate it at its full capacity and the plant can be operated only by engineers with expert domain knowledge, and by those who are competent and trained over a period of time with an experience of at least 10 years.

The company said Tamil Nadu government does not have the technical expertise and financial ability to run the oxygen plant and if untrained personnel were to operate it, the quality of oxygen produced may not be safe.

Vedanta submitted there will be “no pollution whatsoever from the operation of the oxygen plant.”

According to the affidavit, “The oxygen plant is separate and can be operated independently and there is no chance for any kind of pollution from the oxygen producing plant. Further, the petitioner undertakes that it will not carry out any kind of production activities apart from the production of oxygen under the directions of this court.”

The company, in its affidavit, once again asked the Court to allow it to run the plant and stated that it was the duty of the Tamil Nadu government to ensure no law and order issues arose when the plant reopens. The Apex Court posted the matter for further hearing on April 27.

The Vedanta-owned Sterlite Copper plant had sought permission to reopen the plant to manufacture medical oxygen and supply to those in need. According to the petition, while it has the capacity to manufacture over 1,000 metric tonnes of medical oxygen per day, it is ready to supply 500 metric tonnes of medical oxygen immediately from the plant.

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The Tamil Nadu government opposed the plea stating reopening the plant will lead to law and order issues in the district. Later, the Apex Court had asked the state government to explore taking over Vedanta’s plant and manufacturing oxygen.

The plant was sealed in 2018 for violating pollution norms after 13 civilians were killed in an anti-Sterlite protest.

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