Mining company Vedanta on Monday put up its Sterlite Copper plant in Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukudi district for sale, reported The Hindu.
The copper smelting plant was shut down in May 2018 by the Tamil Nadu government after 13 people protesting against its expansion were killed in police firing in the same month.
Activists in Thoothukudi have alleged that the plant, which was set up in 1996, was contaminating the region’s air and water resources, and causing diseases among the residents. The government also alleged that the facility had violated environmental norms.
In an advertisement on Monday, the company said: “Vedanta, in conjunction with Axis Capital, invites Expression of Interest for the sale of its Copper plant along with its other units which includes Smelter Complex [primary and secondary], sulphuric acid plant, copper refinery, continuous copper rod plant, phosphoric acid plant, effluent treatment plant, captive power plants, RO units, oxygen generation unit and residential complex.”
The last day to submit bids is July 4, reported Business Today.
The company had said that since the plant was closed, it has been incurring a loss of Rs 5 crore per day. Company officials added that around Rs 800 crore to Rs 1,000 crore would be required to restore the plant if it received permission to reopen.
Following Monday’s announcement, the stocks of Vedanta fell by 40.15 points, or 15.23%, to 223.50 as of 2.30 pm on the BSE.
Several residents living in villages around the plant have welcomed the conglomerate’s announcement, according to The Quint.
“We are happy to hear about this,” said Ramani, whose son was killed in the police firing. “We do not want to continue protesting. There should be an end to this polluting industry.”
A social activist, however, told The Quint that the announcement was just a ploy by the company.
“After a few days, they will claim that they were not able to sell the plant and will come up with a fresh appeal to the state government to allow them to operate,” claimed the activist, who did not wish to be identified.
For the past few years, officials of Sterlite Cooper have been trying to reopen the plant, according to The Hindu. In April, the Supreme Court had allowed Vedanta to operate its oxygen production plant at its Sterlite Copper premises due to coronavirus situation.
At the time, several states were experiencing crippling shortages of oxygen and other critical equipment due to a massive surge in daily coronavirus cases.