Chennai, May 13 : Vedanta Ltd owned SterliteCopper has commenced production of medical oxygen at itsfacility in Tamil Nadu and the first batch of medical gradeoxygen was dispatched on Thursday, authorities said.
The Sterlite copper smelter plant was given approvalby the then AIADMK government on April 26 at an all-partymeeting to produce medical oxygen at its facility for a periodof four months at the facility in Tuticorin about 600 kms fromhere.
The unit was sealed by the state government in May2018, days after 13 agitators who were part of a protestagainst the company over environmental concerns were killed inpolice firing during a violent anti-Sterlite stir in thesouthern district.
Recently, Industries Minister Thangam Thennarasu hadcommented that the production of medical oxygen would commencethis week.
“One of our oxygen plants has commenced productionfrom May 12. The first tanker carrying 4.8 tonnes of liquidoxygen is going to Tirunelveli-Tuticorin,” the company said ina statement on Thursday.
With the company commencing production of medicaloxygen, initially it would dispatch two oxygen tankers on adaily basis and later it would be scaled up by ramping upproduction.
Sterlite said the oxygen supplied is of 98.6 per centpurity and has received the necessary certifications for itsuse.
“We are now working with experts to resolve thelogistics involved in transporting the oxygen produced in ourfacility to the required parts of India and coordinating withauthorised nodal agencies in this regard,” it said.
Commenting on the production of medical oxygen,Sterlite Copper CEO, Pankaj Kumar said, “my team members and Iare honoured that our facility and efforts are being directlyput into helping save lives.” “We promise to make every possible effort to ensurethat there is continuous production of oxygen from our plantto mitigate this crisis,” he added.
The oxygen plant at the unit was reactivated at theearliest through the collaborative efforts of suppliers andpartners.
The support received from employees and community alsoplayed a critical role in helping ready the plant forimmediate production, the company said.
Sterlite Copper plant was grateful to the SupremeCourt, central and state governments and to the localadministration for providing the necessary approvals in anexpedited manner, the company said.
At a meeting on April 26 chaired by the then ChiefMinister K Palaniswami and attended by main opposition partyDMK among others, it was resolved to allow Sterlite to produceoxygen from its plant in Tuticorin, days after Vedanta movedthe Supreme Court in this connection.
As per the Supreme Court directive, power supply maybe allowed for Vedantas Sterlite Industries in Tuticorin forfour months to repair and operate oxygen producing and relatedequipment only, the meeting had resolved.
The period may be extended later but “at no cost”shall other activities like copper manufacturing and runningthe co-generation plant shall be allowed and the “power supplyshall be cut after this period (four months) by TANGEDCO,” itadded.
Tamil Nadu should get priority in the oxygen beingproduced here and it shall be taken to other states only aftermeeting its requirements, it was decided at the meeting.
A committee comprising the District Collector,Superintendent of Police, TNPCB environmental engineer fromTuticorin, government officials experts in oxygen production,local residents, NGO members and activists opposed to theplant will monitor the production of oxygen and also decide onrunning the unit, it said.
Earlier, the apex court had said people were dyingdue to lack of oxygen and questioned the Tamil Nadu governmentas to why it cannot take over the Sterlite copper unit forproducing oxygen to treat COVID-19 patients.
The Tamil Nadu government had appealed to industriesacross segments to come forward to produce medical-gradeoxygen amid the COVID-19 infections surge in Tamil Nadu andthe increasing demand for oxygen support beds to treatseriously ill coronavirus patients.PTI VIJ SSPTI PTI
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