The Tamil Nadu government on Friday, April 30, announced the constitution of a monitoring committee to supervise the production of medical oxygen at Vedantaâ€™s Sterlite Copper smelter plant in Thoothukudi. The committee was set up based on the directions of the Supreme Court.
According to a government order, the seven-member committee will be headed by the District Collector of Thoothukudi. Other members of the committee will be the Superintendent of Police, Thoothukudi, Sub Collector of Thoothukudi, District Environmental Engineer of Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), Thoothukudi, Joseph Pellarimine Anton Soris, Deputy Chief Chemist, Thoothukudi Thermal Power Station and two environmental experts who will be nominated.
On April 27, the Supreme Court allowed Vedanta to reopen its Sterlite plant in Thoothukudi to produce medical oxygen in its oxygen plant. Barring the company from entering and operating its copper smelting plant, the apex court also ordered that the state government shall form a committee to monitor and supervise the process. The court also stated that the committee will be allowed to engage with the local community around the plant to address their concerns. Directing that there must be no argument between political parties over this decision to manufacture medical oxygen since the country is in a crisis, the court said that the order will be reassessed after July 30, based on the situation on the ground.
The government order issued on Friday also lists the powers of the monitoring committee. The committee will be empowered to monitor the functioning of the oxygen plant and to decide on the number of persons to be permitted inside the premises to operate and manage the oxygen plant. The committee can also conduct a safety audit of the plant before commencement of the operations, and issue appropriate safety directions.
On Monday, the government of Tamil Nadu had conducted an all-party meeting to discuss the feasibility of opening Sterliteâ€™s oxygen plant. Eight political parties including the DMK agreed to allow the plant to reopen to manufacture medical oxygen.