Vedanta's copper unit shut for maintenance work

Tuticorin: Amid protest by locals against Sterlite Copper, a unit of Vedanta, over its proposed expansion plant near here, the company management has announced that it would be shut for 15 days for maintenance work.

A leading copper producer, Sterlite Copper represents the copper unit of Vedanta Limited which operates a 400,000 Tonnes per annum plant here.

A company notification said the unit would be closed for 15 days from yesterday for taking up maintenance work. Residents of A Kumarareddiyapuram village near the Sterlite unit have been agitating for the past 46 days against the existing unit and its proposed expansion.

Anti-Sterlite Movement leader M Krishnamurthy recently said they would step up their stir with the support of more stakeholders like farmers.

The movement had organised a protest on 24 March here against the copper producer and sought the closure of its over two-decade plant alleging air and ground pollution causing health hazards for the people.

The protesters are contending that the effluent discharge from the existing plant contaminated ground water and the expansion would further aggravate the situation.

The company has said the plant had received the necessary regulatory clearances for expansion and its primary commitment was to ensure the development and well-being of all the communities around its operations.

"The smelter plant is self-reliant in terms of power and water requirements and will not use any nearby natural resources," it had said in a statement on 24 March. DMK working president M K Stalin has said permission must not be given to expansion of the Sterlite plant.

CPI (M) state Secretary K Balakrishnan said the Central and State governments must take steps for the closure of the copper unit which has become a "challenge to the healthy life of the people."