Asserting that the political parties of Tamil Nadu have fooled themselves by giving a conditional nod for operation of Sterlite Copper’s oxygen plant, a consortium of environmentalists, social activists and former bureaucrats have said similar facilities in the public sector units across the State can step-up their production to meet the medical-grade oxygen requirements.
In a joint statement, they said the experts were of the opinion that the country did not have any shortage of oxygen production capacity as the industrial-grade oxygen being produced by many factories could be used for medical purposes with “some modifications”. The logistics for transporting oxygen thus produced within the shortest duration could be provided by public sector companies and the armed forces.
Tamil Nadu, where there was no shortage of oxygen, could produce more by using the public sector units in the State including Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, Tiruchi. Without understanding this, the political parties of Tamil Nadu had fooled themselves by giving conditional approval for the operation of Sterlite Copper’s oxygen plant.
Instead of using its other facilities in North India for producing medical-grade oxygen to save the lives of COVID-19 patients, Vedanta was keen on producing the life-saving gas from its Thoothukudi-based sealed Sterlite Copper unit that “produced deadly poisonous gas”. Moreover, the serious doubts about the capacity to produce medical-grade oxygen at this plant were yet to be clarified.
“Vedanta is fully responsible for the murder of 13 persons and environmental degradation of Thoothukudi city and the neighbourhood. Allowing Sterlite Copper to produce life-saving oxygen is a travest y of public health and governance. When the locals are demanding the dismantling of Sterlite Copper, the move to reopen the factory is like rubbing salt on the grave injury. The arguments by Colin Gonsalves, representing the citizens of Thoothukudi in the Supreme Court, were ignored,” they observed, in the statement. Hence the factory should not be opened for oxygen production and instead, it should be closed permanently.
Moreover, Vedanta should compensate the people of Thoothukudi, said the Consortium members including M.G. Devasahayam, former civil servant and chairman of ‘People First’, Janakarajan, former professor of Madras Institute of Development Studies, Henry Tiphage, People’s Watch, P. Rajamanickam, general secretary, All India People’s Science Network, G. Sundararajan of Poovulagin Nanbargal, Suresh, People’s Union for Civil Rights and 15 others.