“The government, after careful examination, in compliance with the Supreme Court order, accorded permission to operate oxygen plants on the premises of M/s Vedanta Limited’s copper smelter unit in Thoothukudi, till July 31. The Chairman, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, has been directed to ensure that no other part of the copper factory other than the oxygen plants and its accessories are operated,” said Environment and Forest Secretary Sandeep Saxena.
In the wake of the unprecedented shortage in oxygen supply across the country, Vedanta filed a petition in the SC seeking permission to manufacture oxygen in Thoothukudi plant.
Responding to a query from the SC, the state government convened an all-party meeting in which it was unanimously decided to permit oxygen production at the Sterlite unit. The decision was conveyed to the Supreme Court, which then issued an order permitting Sterlite to manufacture oxygen. The order also directed the state government to constitute a monitoring committee to ensure that only oxygen was manufactured at the plant.
Based on the order, the state, through another GO, constituted the monitoring committee to supervise the activities at the oxygen plant. The 7-member committee, which will be headed by Thoothukudi Collector, will have two environmental experts apart from district environmental engineer and Joseph Pellarimine Anton Soris, Deputy Chief Chemist, Thoothukudi Thermal Power Station as members.
The monitoring committee will conduct a safety audit before the commencement of operations. It will also issue suitable directions to ensure that all activities are performed safely and engage with residents of the areas to redress any legitimate concern.
Thoothukudi Collector has also been directed to send report every fortnight to the state about the functioning of the oxygen plant.