Tamil Nadu

COVID-19 surge: First tanker with 4.80 tonne oxygen leaves Sterlite Copper’s Thoothukudi plant

The first tanker with 4.80 tonne oxygen being dispatched from Sterlite Copper’s oxygen plant on Thursday, May 13, 2021,   | Photo Credit: P. Sudhakar

The first tanker with 4.80 tonnes of medical-grade oxygen from Sterlite Copper’s oxygen plant was dispatched at 7.10 a.m. on Thursday.

“The medical-grade oxygen with 98.60% purity from Sterlite Copper’s oxygen plant was sent to Tirunelveli Medical College Hospital,” said K. Senthil Raj, District Collector and chairperson of the State government-appointed monitoring committee for overseeing oxygen production from this plant.

After producing 5 KL liquid oxygen for the first two or three days, generation of 35 tonnes of medical-grade liquid oxygen in this plant is expected to commence from May 15-16, which will be great solace for the District Collectors of the southern districts, who are desperately waiting for the gas to save a few thousand critically ill COVID-19 patients under treatment in the medical college and the government hospitals.

As the Sterlite Copper unit in the SIPCOT Industrial Complex here was sealed following the anti-Sterlite protests on May 22, 2018, Vedanta, promoter of the company, approached the Supreme Court with a plea to open its oxygen plant alone for production to save the COVID-19 patients. As the Supreme Court allowed the plea, the plant was inspected by the committee which oversaw the overhauling of the plant, which was also defunct for the past three years following the sealing of the copper smelter.

After the oxygen plant was successfully overhauled within the short duration, generation has started from the copper smelter premises.

Second plant

As the Sterlite Copper has one more oxygen unit with the capacity to produce 35 tonnes of medical-grade oxygen, overhauling of this plant is also going on. It is expected that the second plant would also generate oxygen within a couple of weeks.

A statement from Sterlite Copper said the company would be dispatching two oxygen tankers on a daily basis to begin with and would gradually scale it up.

Chief Executive Officer, Sterlite Copper, Pankaj Kumar, said the oxygen plant was reactivated at the earliest through the collaborative efforts of the suppliers and partners as well. The support received from employees and community also played a critical role in helping ready the plant for immediate production.

“We are especially grateful to the Hon’ble Supreme Court, State government, Central government and local administration for making every effort to provide the necessary approvals in an expedited manner. My team members and I are honoured that our facility and efforts are directly helping save lives. We promise to make every possible effort to ensure that there is continuous production of oxygen from our plant to mitigate this crisis,” Mr. Pankaj said in the statement.

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Printable version | Jun 21, 2021 1:54:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/covid-19-surge-first-tanker-with-480-tonne-oxygen-leaves-sterlite-coppers-thoothukudi-plant/article34547789.ece

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