Thoothukudi Sterlite Plant Dispatches First Batch of Oxygen
The plant was closed in 2018 following massive protests from residents of Thoothukudi.
Vedanta’s Sterlite copper plant in Thoothukudi dispatched the first batch of 4.8 tons of medical oxygen produced at its plant at around 7 am on Thursday, 13 May.
“The medical oxygen produced from Sterlite’s copper plant was sent for use at Tirunelveli Government College Hospital,” said Thoothukudi collector K Senthil Raj.
In an official statement, Sterlite said that it will be dispatching two oxygen tankers on a daily basis, to begin with. Production will be ramped up to 35 MT in the coming days and the produced liquid medical oxygen will be distributed to districts based on the requirement.
Oxygen to Reach Different States
“The oxygen supplied is of 98.6 per cent purity and has received the necessary medical-grade certifications. We are now working with experts to resolve the logistics involved in transporting the oxygen produced in our facility to different parts of India, and are coordinating with the authorized nodal agencies in this regard, “ the copper smelting company’s CEO Pankaj Kumar said.
Kumar said, “My team members and I are honoured that our facility and efforts are being directly put into helping save lives. We promise to make every possible effort to ensure that there is continuous production of oxygen from our pant to mitigate the crisis.”
What Led to Closure
The Sterlite plant was shut down in May 2018 after people living in the vicinity questioned the industry for allegedly violating environmental norms. The closure took place after more than 13 people were killed and hundreds were wounded in a police firing, which took place during people-led massive protests against the plant.
This year, following a Supreme Court directive to re-open Sterlite, the Tamil Nadu government on 26 April decided to allow the partial re-opening of the plant, only for oxygen production for a period of four months. The decision was taken at an all-party meeting held the same day.
The developments took place after Vedanta filed a plea in the Supreme court on 22 April requesting the plant to be allowed to operate to produce 1,000 tonnes of oxygen, so it could be distributed for free to treat Covid-19 patients, across the country.
The plant re-opened recently after a state government-appointed monitoring committee supervised it. Soon, Sterlite will be starting the operation of its second plant, under the supervision of the monitoring committee headed by Thoothukudi collector Senthil Raj.
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