As Sterlite Copper deals with the fallout of the violent protests as well as the shutdown of the copper smelting plant, almost 32,500 jobs have been axed in the Tuticorin plant.
As per a BusinessToday report, the protests claimed 12 lives while twenty-four others were injured. The Tuticorin plant employs 3,500 directly and another 30,000-40,000 indirectly. Of the direct employees, 2,500 are contract workers who have been issued notices under 'force majeure' clause of their contracts, stated Sterlite Copper CEO P Ramnath.
The company has retained the 1,000 employees on its rolls for the time being. However, nearly all of the 30,000 indirect employees will be jobless since they earned their living from ancillary units associated with the company such as suppliers, logistics, transport, copper wire units and other allied activities. These jobs will remain suspended as long as the plant is in shutdown.
As per the company’s claims, it is currently in a once-in-four-year planned and 'extended' shutdown for 45 days since March 27 for repairs and maintenance activities. The planned shutdown ends in the first week of June. However, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board has refused to renew the license to operate the plant since April on account of three major violations.
The violations state that the plant does not comply with environmental laws, has dumped copper slag in the river and has failed to provide reports of the groundwater analysis of nearby borewells. Sterlite meanwhile has denied all these charges. However, the TN Pollution Control Board has rejected the company's application to renew the license to operate the plant beyond March 2018.
Ramnath stated, “The government has not yet renewed the consent to operate. We have approached the appellate tribunal. The next hearing is on June 6. Hopefully, we should be able to get a verdict on that. Based on that we will take it forward.”
Meanwhile, the protests which have been on for nearly 100 days, took a turn for the worse when protestors began ransacking and putting vehicles and public property on fire. The ensuing police action claimed nearly a dozen lives.
Additionally, the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court has also stayed the doubling of Sterlite Copper's capacity from 4 lakh tonnes to 8 lakh tonnes at Tuticorin.
Image Credits: Hindustan Times