In separate letters to Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, Vedanta has offered to supply oxygen from the Sterlite Copper facility in Tuticorin if it is allowed to reopen. The factory was sealed in May 2018 on orders from Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) over allegations of releasing pollutants in its vicinity and in the wake of violent protests.
"We have the capacity to produce liquid oxygen also that can be transported in tankers and gaseous we have talked to units in Coimbatore who are ready to get us cylinders done in 30 to 45 days," a Sterlite Copper spokesperson told Business Today.
In the letter to the Union Health Minister, Vedanta mentioned that it has two oxygen plants with the Sterlite Copper facility with a combined capacity of 1,000 tonnes of oxygen daily. The company added that its staff is ready o begin production at these facilities in the shortest possible time and start delivering oxygen to regions of India in need.
"We would like to offer these facilities for your use, towards ensuring that there is no lack of this vital commodity in the nation, and also to join hands with the commendable efforts of our PM at this critical juncture," the letter read.
Vedanta mentioned that it has filed a petition outlining this offer of support in the Supreme Court, and the same offer has been extended to the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu, as well as Joint Secretary of Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) under Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
To CM Palaniswami, Vedanta informed that it operates an oxygen plant of 1,050 MT daily capacity within the main copper smelter unit. "One oxygen plant of 500 TPD [tonnes per day] can be operated to meet the critical demand of oxygen in this hour of peril... The Oxygen Plant is presently lying shut owing to the orders passed by the TNPCB and the state government, shutting down the copper smelter unit of the company. This is a humble request to grant us the necessary permission and allow us to run the oxygen plant which will be instrumental in supporting the state governments in these critical times."
The offer comes at a time when the nation is undergoing a dire shortage of medical oxygen amid increase in demand on the back of rising COVID-19 cases. The government is pulling all stops to ensure ample supply of the commodity.
Several companies, including Reliance Industries, SAIL, Tata Steel and ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel India have already volunteered to supply oxygen from their facilities. According to the steel ministry, 28 oxygen plants located in the steel facility of both public and private sectors are supplying about 1,500 tonnes of medical oxygen every day. Also, an additional stock of 30,000 MT, including the safety stock, is being made available for medical use.(Edited by Vivek Punj)