- "Sterlite plant will not be reopened," minister D Jayakumar said
- The Sterlite plant was shut down in March
- 13 people died in police firing during protests against the plant
The Sterlite plant in Tamil Nadu's Tuticorin, the epicentre of violent protests over environmental hazards, will not be reopened, a minister asserted today, on appeals from some spiritual leaders.
"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 minister D Jayakumar. "Sterlite has been permanently closed," he stressed.
The Sterlite plant was shut down in May amid massive anger and tension over the death of 13 people in police firing during protests against the plant.
The minister was responding to Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev and yoga guru Ramdev coming out in support of reopening the copper smelter.
Sadhguru 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."
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.-Sg @Zakka_Jacob@CMOTamilNadu@PMOIndia- Sadhguru (@SadhguruJV) June 27, 2018
The tweet has been criticised by some, like actor Siddharth, who referred to the killing of 13 protesters. "This isn't the best time to list the benefits of copper. Shooting citizens is murder. Address the murder. Now," said Siddharth.
Recently, Ramdev also tweeted that the plant should not be closed, after a meeting with Anil Agarwal, the executive chairman of Vedanta -- the parent company of Sterlite Industries. "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.
Environmentalist Nithyanand Jayaraman today said: "Sterlite is not a spiritual issue; it's a legal issue. Jaggi Vasudev has been silent over the real lynching". Responding to Ramdev calling industries as temples of development, Mr Nithyanand added, "Temples then should not become places for crime, we are talking about environmental claim."
Residents and environmental activists have long demanded a shutdown of the copper smelter, which has annual production of more than 400,000 tonnes, citing air and water pollution, allegedly causing cancer and respiratory problems. Vedanta 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.