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‘We are on Strong Ground’: Sterlite Copper CEO Says Plant Will Take Two Months to Reopen

After the NGT order, the Tamil Nadu government said it would move the Supreme Court to challenge the order. Sterlite Copper is gearing up to face the legal hurdles ahead.

Poornima Murali | CNN-News18

Updated:December 21, 2018, 9:28 AM IST
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Chennai: After the National Green Tribunal set aside the Tamil Nadu government’s order to close Vedanta’s copper smelter plant in Thoothukudi permanently and directed the administration to pass a fresh order of renewal of consent within three weeks, Sterlite Copper is confident that once given an entry into the plant site, factory can resume operations in one or two months.

Speaking to CNN-News 18, CEO P Ramnath said: “We are awaiting the okay for entry into the plant, because for the last six months our plant has not seen any maintenance at all. The first priority for us is to get entry into the plant so that we examine exactly what needs to be done to get the plant back into operations so that we can operate in a very safe manner. Once we get entry, probably it will take one or two months’ time.”

After the NGT order, the Tamil Nadu government said it would move the Supreme Court to challenge the order. Sterlite Copper is gearing up to face the legal hurdles ahead. “We will cross the bridge when it comes. They (Tamil Nadu) have already approached the SC earlier and the SC directed them back to the NGT for maintainability and merits. I think we are on strong grounds but let us see what happens,” added Ramnath.

Sterlite Copper is also ready for open discussion with not just the protesters but also the state government. Ramnath said: “Over the last six months, we have always been open to discussions. We have invited the protesters to come and have an open discussion with us because if they are environmentalists, then they have some kind of a point which we can learn from them and we are always open to learning but none of them accepted our offer. Even with the government, we have absolutely no issues in meeting with the officials. We would like to hold talks with them as and when they are ready.”

Thoothukudi is a vitiated ground with both the anti-Sterlite and the pro-sterlite groups often petitioning the district collector. When asked if protests may continue once Sterlite restarts its operations, Ramnath said: “In the short run, yes. But in the long run, it will die down.”

In May this year, Tamil Nadu ordered the closure of the Sterlite plant after 14 people were killed in a violent protest that broke out between the protesters and police officials.

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