Chennai: The Sterlite plant at Tuticorin, which has been the epicentre of violent protests over environmental hazards, has been permanently closed, Tamil Nadu Minister D Jayakumar asserted on Thursday, adding that the government doesn’t care about views of Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev and Spiritual guru Jaggi Vasudev.
“Sterlite plant will not be reopened. We’ve taken a firm stand. We don’t care about the views of Ramdev and Sadhguru,” said Tamil Nadu Fisheries Minister Jayakumar. “Sterlite has been permanently closed,” he said.
The Sterlite Copper plant in Tuticorin was shut down after 13 people, protesting against the plant, were killed in police firing on May 22 and 23.
The minister was responding to Baba Ramdev and Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev coming out in support of reopening the copper smelter in Tuticorin.
On Wednesday, spiritual guru Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev had said in a tweet: “Am not an expert on copper smelting but I know India has immense use for copper. If we don’t produce our own, of course we will buy from China. Ecological violations can be addressed legally. Lynching large businesses is economic suicide.”
Earlier this week, Ramdev also tweeted that the plant should not be closed, after a meeting with Anil Agarwal, executive chairman of Vedanta — the parent company of Sterlite Industries, in London.
“International conspirators created ruckus at one of Vedanta’s plant in South of India through innocent local people. Industries are the temples of development for the nation. They should not be closed,” the yoga guru tweeted.
Environmental activists and residents for long demanded a shutdown of the copper smelter, which has an annual production of more than 400,000 tonnes, citing air and water pollution, allegedly causing cancer and respiratory problems.
Vedanta, however, denies the accusations of pollution. The plant, India’s second-biggest copper smelter, has been shut since March for maintenance and pending a renewal of its licence.
The Tamil Nadu government said the smelter was closed mainly in response to the demands of residents of the coastal city of Tuticorin and based on various violations raised by the pollution control board.