“The closure will affect 3,000 employees directly and over 20,000 indirectly”

Around 2,000 people, including employees and contract workers of the Sterlite Copper, along with their family members took out a silent procession to the District Collector's office here on Sunday to submit a petition seeking reopening of the company, which was closed on Friday night.

The closure order was issued following emission of sulphur dioxide from the Sterlite plant in the early hours of March 23. A show cause notice was served on the company by district administration the next day.

Based on an order by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, operations in the company came to a halt from Friday night. Crestfallen by the closure, the workforce submitted petitions to government authorities to safeguard their livelihood. Besides representing their grievance to the Pollution Control Board officials on Saturday for resumption of the company, the workforce also submitted a petition to the Tuticorin tahsildar.

According to the petition, the closure would adversely affect the livelihood of 3,000 employees directly and over 20,000 people associated indirectly with Sterlite.

The petition also stated that more than 30 small scale industries were solely dependent on Sterlite for their business. Around two lakh people in Tuticorin were getting benefited from the Sterlite’s community welfare programmes every year. The petitioners hoped that the district administration would consider their demand.

Stakeholders under the banner ‘Save Industry Forum’ here also urged the need for resumption of Sterlite. Members of the industrial body in Tuticorin were disappointed over the closure of the plant.

T. Velshankar, president, Tuticorin Custom House Agents Association, said he would not compromise on safety in public interest but at the same time abrupt closure of the company would affect business economy.

Stringent measures should be adopted to maintain safety parameters in the company. In a long term vision, the business chambers had recently formed ‘Tuticorin Development Board’ to bring in more industrial investments. If such scenario prevailed in Tuticorin, the investors would certainly be reluctant to have a stake in Tuticorin, Mr. Velshankar said.

With a sea port, airport and four-way road connectivity in Tuticorin, the recent announcements of outer harbour development at Rs. 7, 500 crore, ship building yard and the Madurai–Tuticorin industrial corridor, more investments were expected, he said.

P.S.S.K. Raja Sankaralingam, Secretary General, All India Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Tuticorin, said the closure would send a wrong signal to investors. K. Nehruprakash, vice-president, THUDITSSIA, said remedial measures should be taken in the interest of local public and also businessmen.

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