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needs of Tamil Nadu, the resolution said.”>
Vedanta-owned Sterlite Copper smelting plant at Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu has been allowed to reopen partially for four months only to produce medical oxygen, in the wake of the severe shortage due to the pandemic.
A government-appointed panel will monitor the functioning of the plant and copper production will not be allowed.
Production at the unit was halted in 2018 amid protests by locals over environmental pollution and the consequent death of 13 protesters following police firing.
An all-party meeting convened by Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Monday unanimously decided to allow Sterlite to reopen the plant to produce oxygen.
The meeting was held after Vedanta moved the Supreme Court seeking permission to produce oxygen at its shut plant. The party representatives said that as per the SC directive, power supply to the unit may be allowed for four months only to repair and operate oxygen-producing and related equipment.
On Friday, the apex court had said people are dying due to lack of oxygen and asked the Tamil Nadu government why it cannot take over the Sterlite unit to produce oxygen.
A resolution was also passed at the meeting saying that the temporary permit may be extended later considering the need for oxygen at the time, an official release said.
Production of copper or the operation of any other units will not be allowed at the plant under any circumstances. Oxygen produced at the plant can be supplied to other states only after fulfilling the needs of Tamil Nadu, the resolution said.
The resolution was passed after widespread consultation with parties, including AIADMK, DMK, BJP, PMK, DMDK and other Left parties.
In a statement, the Tamil Nadu government said it will constitute a monitoring committee led by the district collector and comprising the superintendent of police, sub-collector, district environmental engineer from the pollution control board, two government experts on oxygen production, and three representatives of public, environmental organisations and anti-Sterlite groups.
A statement from Vedanta said, “We are committed to making the entire production capacity of 1,000 tonne available for the purpose of producing medical grade oxygen and are already working with experts on how best to resolve the logistics of dispatching this to critical areas in Tamil Nadu on priority and subsequently across the nation.”
The state government on Monday said Vedanta had submitted in the court that it can produce up to 1,050 tonne a day of oxygen in liquid and gas forms from two of its units in Sterlite in two to four weeks.
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