Amid the ongoing Oxygen crisis, the Tamil Nadu government and opposition parties have agreed to open Vedanta’s Sterlite plant three years after it was shut down following a violent protest. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami chaired an all-party meeting yesterday which was attended by opposition party DMK among others. The parties agreed to allow the Sterlite plant to produce oxygen for four months. It may be recalled that Vedanta had moved the Supreme Court for the opening of its Tuticorin-based plant to produce Oxygen.
Vedanta said that it was committed to making the entire production capacity of 1,000 tonnes available for producing medical oxygen. Vedanta’s copper unit was sealed by the Tamil Nadu government in May 2018, days after 13 agitators were killed in police firing during a violent anti-Sterlite protest.
The parties also agreed that the period may be extended later but other activities won’t be allowed at any cost. It said that the power supply shall be cut after four months by TANGEDCO. The parties also noted that Tamil Nadu should get priority in getting the Oxygen first and it shall be given to other states only after meeting the state’s requirements.
Playing it safe, the parties said that a committee comprising the District Collector, Superintendent of Police, TNPCB environmental engineer from
Tuticorin, government officials experts in oxygen production, local residents, NGO members and activists opposed to the plant will monitor the Oxygen production.
The Supreme Court had questioned the Tamil Nadu government as to why it cannot take over the Sterlite copper unit for producing oxygen as people were dying due to lack of oxygen.
CM Palaniswami has written to PM Narendra Modi on Sunday urging him to immediately cancel the diversion of 80 MTs of Oxygen to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana from Tamil Nadu. He said Tamil Nadu would soon require up to 450 MT oxygen, which is more than its current production capacity. The Centre had allocated 220 MT for the state.