Tamil Nadu: DMK Wants Sterlite Plant to Reopen Only for Manufacturing Oxygen

Tamil Nadu’s political parties have recommended operating the Sterlite Copper factory in Thoothukudi for oxygen manufacturing to meet the demand for the treatment of Covid-19 patients. Parties however stressed that the reopening was purely for oxygen manufacture and the opposition to plant’s existence to make copper was still in full force. According to a statement from the DMK, the party pitches for temporary reopening of Sterlite’s oxygen making unit with extensive provisions for control and monitoring of the activity at the plant. While acknowledging the suffering of the people of Thoothukudi due to the activities of the copper plant, the people of the southern city would not stand in the way of supply of oxygen during the time of the pandemic. Chief Minister Palaniswami started with a preamble that the government doesn’t want the plant to be opened, for it had shut it down in May 2018; nevertheless, considering the gravity of the situation, the government recommended opening the plant for 4 months. MDMK chief Vaiko, who had campaigned extensively against Sterlite, had also agreed to reopening the factory, with controls. Some parties like VCK and Naam Tamilar expressed concerns about the move to reopen the factory. However, most of the parties pitched time-bound operations with monitors and controls of Sterlite factory keeping in view the dire need of oxygen for those who are fighting the coronavirus. It may be noted that the Thoothukudi plant can produce 1,050 tonnes of oxygen per day. Sterlite moved the Supreme Court for reopening its plant to manufacture oxygen and the matter is pending.

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