The plant has been shut since May 2018 after protests over environmental concerns turned violent and 13 were killed in police firing.

The Sterlite Copper plant at nightFile Photo
news Business Monday, June 20, 2022 - 10:52

Vedanta Group is aiming to sell its Sterlite plant in Thoothukudi, and has issued a notification inviting Expression Of Interest (EOI) to sell Sterlite Copper, the copper smelting unit in Thoothukudi. The plant has been shut since May 2018 after protests by the public and activists ended in the police firing on protestors, and 13 people were killed in the firing. Now, with the plant closed for almost three years and only briefly opening amid COVID-19, the company is planning on selling it and has issued an EOI. An Expression Of Interest (EOI) is an informal documentation between the buyer and seller, allowing a range of purchase options.

Vedanta had reopened the plant briefly in 2021 to supply oxygen to medical institutions, when there was an acute shortage of oxygen amidst COVID-19 pandemic. However, the group has been denied the option to reopen the copper smelter plant. In 2018, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had granted permission to reopen the plant, but the next year, the Supreme Court set aside the NGT order and directed the group to approach the Madras High Court for interim relief. Vedanta did approach the High Court in June 2019, but the High Court dismissed the company’s plea to resume operations, and Vedanta went back to the Supreme Court. A case is to be heard in the apex court regarding the issue.

This is the background amidst which the EOI has been advertised. The copper smelter, which had an annual production of more than 400,000 tonnes is to be sold, for which interested and financially competent parties are asked to submit EOI along with their company’s profile before July 4. Vedanta is to sell ten units, including the massive smelter complex and oxygen generation unit, in conjunction with Axis Capital.

This comes even as Vedanta's plea to open the plant is pending in the Supreme Court. The Tamil Nadu government had sealed the plant run by Vedanta arm Sterlite on May 28, 2018, due to environmental concerns. During a protest against environmental pollution residents say is caused by the plant, thirteen people were killed when police opened fire.

The top court had also asked the Tamil Nadu government to form a committee comprising the Thoothukudi Collector, Superintendent of Police, District Environmental Engineer, Sub-Collector and two government officials with knowledge of the matter to overlook the functioning of the plant. A plea by Vedanta challenging the closure of the copper plant in May 2018 is pending adjudication separately.

Topic tags,
Become a TNM Member for just Rs 999!
You can also support us with a one-time payment.