Sterlite Industries has begun the process of shutting down its copper smelter plant here in compliance with the Madras High Court order for its immediate closure. According to Sundar Raj, head, public relations, Sterlite Industries, the plant was functional now but the shutdown process had begun. The process of shutting down the copper smelter would take three weeks.

A Sterlite release stated that it was committed to complying with the court order and filed a review petition on Wednesday in the High Court seeking three weeks for compliance on technical grounds. “Our plant is process-based and we have to take into consideration technical and safety issues while effecting a shutdown.”

The company filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court on Wednesday, seeking a stay of the Madras High Court order.

Contractors attached to the plant expressed concern over its closure. They said that shutdown of the copper smelter would affect ancillary units and workers dependent on the Sterlite unit. They would not be in a position to repay loans borrowed from banks and other financial institutions.

“If the scenario of closure prevails, we will have to migrate to other places to make both ends meet”, Nehru Prakash, president, Tuticorin District Tiny and Small Scale Industries' Association, said.

R. Vijayakumar, vice-president, Contractors' Association, said that the High Court had directed Sterlite to make alternative arrangements for direct employees.