‘Shifting plant out of T.N. is not an option’

Sterlite Copper CEO comments on ruling

Published - August 19, 2020 02:50 am IST - CHENNAI

Shifting the Sterlite plant out of Tamil Nadu is not an option at all right now, Sterlite Copper CEO Pankaj Kumar has said. “Nothing can be shifted, and we have to exhaust all our legal options before we can even think about [doing] it. As of now, we are not even thinking of that,” he told The Hindu .

“The shutdown largely seems to be political. In five years, we have not got a single non-compliance report from the government or anybody for that matter. Even in the court, none of the opposing counsels could produce even a single [piece of] evidence of non-compliance,” Mr. Kumar said. Asked what his next move would be, he said, “We will be pursuing all available legal remedies.”

In a statement earlier in the day, he said, “We firmly believe in the safe and environmentally sound nature of our operations, and are discouraged by the wilful reliance on anecdotal evidence and half-truths by certain parties to spread falsehoods against our operations.”

About ₹3,000 crore was spent on setting up the Thoothukudi plant and the company is currently losing ₹5 crore daily.

“Sterlite Copper has been incurring losses for six consecutive quarters due to the ongoing closure,” Mr. Kumar said.

In an affidavit filed in March 2019, the company said damage worth ₹100 crore had been sustained due to negligence in the maintenance of the plant by the authorities.

Commenting on the economic impact due to the shutdown, Mr. Kumar said India had become a net importer of refined copper after 18 years. “Our country is now spending ₹14,000 crore on forex to import copper, which would have otherwise been produced by us domestically,” he said. The Thoothukudi smelter accounts for 40% of the country’s copper smelting capacity. Production fell by 46.1% during FY2019.

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