Industrialists across Tamil Nadu have expressed concern over the Tamil Nadu government’s decision to permanently shut down the Vedanta Group’s Sterlite copper plant at Thoothukudi. According to them, this episode will further hurt investors’ sentiments and is not a good sign at a time the State is gearing up for the Global Investors’ Meet in 2019.
An office-bearer of a chamber of commerce who wished anonymity, said, “Even if Sterlite is at fault, closure is not the right solution. The government should have come out with alternative arrangements that would help all the stakeholders involved in this issue. This has left a bitter scar on many industrialists.”
Ranganath N.K., managing director of Grundfos India, said, “I have a neutral stance on this issue since I do not know much about the facts at the ground level. But if environmental norms had been complied with, then the closure is unfortunate.”
M. Ponnuswami, chairman, CII Tamil Nadu State Council, said, “The May 22 firing was unfortunate. In issues like this, building the confidence of the local community and all other stakeholders is the key.”
The president of another chamber of commerce said that the State government’s decision would dent the confidence of the industrial sector. He added that investors were already apprehensive of coming to Tamil Nadu and this move would send out negative signals. Existing firms would also not invest further and would look for alternative destinations. “This closure will also impact several other small-scale industries which rely on Sterlite,” he said.
The managing director of a firm in Chennai said the closure had set a wrong precedent. “If people start protesting and the government reacts by closing units, no company will feel safe to work in the State and no one will come forward to invest here. The company [Sterlite] was allowed to function for several years and has made huge investments. It should have been given some breather or an alternative solution to the problem.”
Sudhir Kumar Agarwal, chairman, Winding Wires Manufacturers Association of India, said that this was sad news for industry and the economy.
He added, “A commercial issue has been politicised. The commercial issue is whether the firm complied with the environmental norms or not. If it had complied, it should be allowed to operate. If not, it should have been told be take corrective action. The smelter accounted for the majority of copper produced in India and helped in job creation in the region. Now, the country will be forced to import copper, which does not augur well.”