India: Will Tamil Nadu Take A Re-Look At Sterlite Copper Plant? – OpEd


When the public demonstration against Sterlite Copper plant in Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu took a violent turn resulting in police firing and unfortunate death of innocent persons, Tamil Nadu government panicked and ordered immediate closure of Sterlite Copper Plant.

Since then, Tamil Nadu government has been going out of the way to keep on repeating at every opportunity that Sterlite copper plant would never be reopened.

In Tuticorin and surrounding areas, there is population of around 3 lakh people and perhaps, around ten thousand persons have participated in the demonstration against Sterlite plant. At the same time, there are direct and indirect employees and contract workers associated with Sterlite Copper unit , whose number is said to be around 10,000 and they have said that the plant should not be closed and they have not suffered in health due to the operation of the plant.

Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu government has said that miscreants participated in the demonstration and caused violence.

Now, section of the people living in Tuticorin and villages nearby have given petition to the government demanding that Sterlite copper plant should be reopened. Villagers have said that they have been living there for several years and they have not suffered any health problems.

Meanwhile, due to the closure of Sterlite Copper plant , many people have lost jobs, several small and tiny industries making supply to Sterlite copper unit are facing closure and price of products like sulphuric acid, copper have skyrocketed. India has now become a net importer of copper, whereas it was a net exporter of copper when sterlite plant was operating. Apart from the loss of foreign exchange due to the import of copper now, Tamil Nadu government is also losing sizable revenue that it was getting when sterlite copper unit was operating. Tamil Nadu government with huge budgetary deficit seem to be unconcerned about the loss of revenue.

In such circumstances, should not the Tamil Nadu government keep an open mind and view the issue in a constructive way, instead of taking a decision based on political consideration and public demonstration by fringe groups and the so called activists?

Now that the matter is before the Green Tribunal, Tamil Nadu government should request the Green Tribunal to look into the matter objectively and provide it’s view and decision on operating Sterile copper unit, which Tamil Nadu government should implement.

Tamil Nadu government should avoid taking a negative view and should not keep vote bank politics in mind while taking it’s stand.

It is an extremely dangerous trend to allow the development of a condition and mindset, that decision on the fate of industrial and infrastructure projects, can be taken on the basis of protest in the streets and the capacity of the protestors to create law and order problem and paralyse public life

Tamil Nadu government has certainly failed in its duty to protect the interests of the state by it’s knee jerk reaction to shut down the Sterlite Copper project.

If Tamil Nadu government thought it to be necessary, it could have asked the Sterlite copper unit to suspend production ,then the government could have appointed a technical expert committee to look into the matter and asked the unit to implement the recommendations of the expert committee and then restart the plant, if suggested by the expert committee. This is the international practice including in the developed countries.

The routine protestors and the so called environmental activists should not have the last laugh in such matters.

N. S. Venkataraman

N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause. To promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

3 thoughts on “India: Will Tamil Nadu Take A Re-Look At Sterlite Copper Plant? – OpEd

  • July 12, 2018 at 10:47 pm

    Mr. NSV.. please come live in tuticorin before writing any nonsense about the protest. Also don’t write anything under some influence. How did u know the protest is from small fringe group. Whole of Tuty is opposing this plant because at any point if time they don’t follow pollution rules. Can you touch for the pollution control, if not don’t support.

  • July 12, 2018 at 11:04 pm

    Yes the government can get, effectively implemented the various preventive measures for environmental safety,have an objective ,sensible and a rigorous inspection of the plant for total compliance of all the precautions to be taken and then consider the reopening of the plant

  • July 13, 2018 at 1:23 am

    Sir, NSV looks like biased article, after so many problems, unit was shut down, no need to have a relook, other options for small business to be supported


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