The Sterlite copper plant in Thoothukudi, which was permanently closed by the Tamil Nadu government following massive citizen protests might put 30,000 jobs at risk as reported by IANS.
As per the report, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Sterlite – P. Ramnath has estimated that about 30,000 direct and indirect jobs are on the line following the closure. He also claimed that small and medium industries amounting to 800, which depend on their organisation for smelter would face supply disruption.
He also claimed that besides employees, India Economy as a whole would suffer owing to the shutdown as the country’s annual import bill would rise by $2 billion. This he claimed was owing to Sterlite being one of the largest copper producers in India, with clients ranging from sectors like defence and electrics now having to rely on imports.
As reported by Swarajya, this decision to permanently seal the plant following the violent protests which resulted in the death of 13 protesters. These violent protests were mainly prompted by the proposed expansion of the plant, which would have potentially increased the plant’s total output to 4.2 lakh tonnes per year.
These protest supposedly prompted by environmental concerns had seen a lot of political slugfest with Congress President Rahul Gandhi falsely accusing PM Modi and the RSS for the protesters’ deaths.
Such a moral high ground by the Congress party was considered ironic by many owing to it being reported that it was the Congress-led UPA government between 2007 and 2012 which had backed the proposed expansion.
This backing included – approving the proposal for setting up 2×60 MW coal-based captive power plants in March 2007, environmental clearance for copper smelter’s expansion in August 2007 and a fresh environmental clearance in 2009 for the said expansion.
Things didn’t stop at that and in July 2012, the Congress-led UPA government had permitted another construction at the plant.