Updated: May 13, 2021 12:17:42 pm
Vedanta-owned Sterlite copper smelter plant in Thoothukudi has dispatched the first batch of medical-grade oxygen to Tirunelveli Medical College Hospital. Following the orders of the Supreme Court, the Tamil Nadu Government in April provided permission for the copper smelter plant to reopen and operate its oxygen units for a period of four months.
Thoothukudi Collector K Senthil Raj, who flagged off the consignment, said the first tanker with 4.8 tonnes of medical-grade oxygen was dispatched at 7 am. Police personnel were been deployed to escort the vehicle to the destination.
A statement from the Vedanta management said that they would be dispatching two oxygen tankers on a daily basis in the beginning and would gradually scale it up as they expand production. They said that one of their oxygen plants commenced production on May 12.
“The oxygen supplied is of 98.6% purity and has received the necessary medical-grade certifications. We are now working with experts to resolve the logistics involved in transporting the oxygen produced in our facility to required parts of India, and are coordinating with authorized nodal agencies in this regard,” the statement read.
The members of the monitoring committee constituted by the state government to supervise the production of the medical oxygen plant first visited the plant on May 5. Collector K Senthil Raj, who is the state-appointed chairperson of the committee inspected the various facilities and provided permission to supply water and electricity to the plant. The committee made a second visit on Wednesday to review the preparations before providing a green signal for the commencement of the production. The second plant in the unit is also expected to generate oxygen within a couple of weeks.
Sterlite CEO Pankaj Kumar said they are honoured that their facility and efforts are directly put into saving lives. He added that they will make every possible effort to ensure there is continuous production of oxygen from their plant to mitigate the ongoing crisis.
The Sterlite plant was ordered to shut down in 2018 by the state government due to environmental violations. On May 22, 2018, at least 13 people were killed and several others were injured when the state police opened fire on the people who took demonstrations against the construction of a new smelter plant.
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