Tamil Nadu Electricity Minister P Thangamani on Saturday said the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam-led government would not let the Vedanta-owned Sterlite Copper plant in Thoothukudi district resume operations, The Hindu reported. The government ordered the permanent closure of the plant after 13 people participating in a protest against it were killed in police firing on May 22 and May 23.
Meanwhile, minister D Jayakumar said the police were only arresting protestors who had been caught on film indulging in “anti-social” activities, Reuters reported. “Our stand is clear: the smelter will remain shut,” Jayakumar said. “An isolated incident like this is not going to hit investments in the state, as we have good infrastructure and provide attractive tax incentives.”
The ministers’ statements follow criticism from Opposition parties, including Left leader TK Rangarajan who claimed that the AIADMK was in favour of Sterlite Copper. The Left leader, who is also a Rajya Sabha member, had rebuked Thangamani in the Assembly for claiming that the closure of the plant was among the reasons for the delay in sourcing transformers for the state electricity board. The electricity minister said it was unfortunate that senior Left leaders had made statements that were far from the truth.
In May, Sterlite Copper’s chief executive officer claimed that the plant’s closure would inflate India’s import bill by around $2 billion (Rs 13,465 crore) a year and threaten about 30,000 jobs, IANS had reported.