‘Plant won’t be reopened’: TN minister rejects pro-Sterlite views of spiritual leaders, says report
States Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar said the state government had taken a firm stand by permanently closing the copper smelter.
Tamil Nadu Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar on Thursday rejected suggestions from yoga guru Ramdev and spiritual leader Jaggi Vasudev to allow Vedanta’s Sterlite copper smelter in Thoothukudi to keep functioning. The plant will not be reopened, Jayakumar said.
“We have taken a firm stand,” Jayakumar said, according to NDTV. “We don’t care about the views of Ramdev and Sadhguru [Jaggi Vasudev]. Sterlite has been permanently closed.”
The government had on May 28 ordered permanent closure of the Thoothukudi plant after 13 people participating in a protest against its operations were killed in police firing on May 22 and May 23.
Jayakumar’s remarks came after Jaggi Vasudev said in a tweet on Wednesday that “lynching large businesses is economic suicide”. “Am not an expert on copper smelting but I know India has immense use for copper,” he wrote. “If we don’t produce our own, of course we will buy from China. Ecological violations can be addressed legally.”
On Monday, Ramdev had tweeted a picture of him meeting Vedanta Executive Chairman Anil Agarwal in London. “International conspirators created ruckus at one of Vedanta’s plant in South of India through innocent local people,” he wrote. “Industries are the temples of development for the nation. They should not be closed.”
For more than two decades, activists in Thoothukudi had accused Sterlite of contaminating the region’s air and water resources and causing breathing disorders, skin diseases, heart conditions and cancer. Since February, there were large-scale protests against the company’s copper smelter, which had the capacity to produce 4.38 lakh tonnes of anodes per annum, or 1,200 tonnes per day.