Sterlite Industries Back in Business


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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The National Green Tribunal (NGT) in its judgment upheld its interim order of May 31, 2013, and has allowed the Tuticorin Copper Smelter of Sterlite Industries to continue to operate.

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Sterlite’s copper-smelting unit in Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu. (PTI File photo)

Sterlite’s copper-smelting unit in Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu. (PTI File photo)

Based in Mumbai, India, Sterlite Industries (India) Limited, a unit of London-listed resources conglomerate Vedanta Resources is a diversified and integrated metals and mining group operating in Tuticorin, India. It has the country’s largest copper smelter which produces 30,000 tonnes of refined copper a month – or more than half of India’s total production. The company produces copper cathodes and cast copper rods for use in the transformer and the wires and cables industries. It markets its copper products directly to original equipment manufacturers and traders.

The company has diverse operations. It mines bauxite, and produces aluminum conductors and various other aluminum products; mines zinc ore, and produces zinc ingots and lead ingots. In addition to these products the Sterlite Industries produces various chemical products, such as sulphuric acids, phosphoric acids, phospho gypsum, hydrofluosilicic acids, and granulated slag.

Further, the company is involved in paper business as well as in trading gold. It markets its copper products directly to original equipment manufacturers and traders.

The Sterlite Industries’ copper smelter was commissioned in 1996. From the beginning, the plant has been mired in controversy. Originally it was planned to erect the plant in Maharashtra and Goa, but it faced severe opposition from the people there. However, the AIADMK regime under Jayalalithaa welcomed the project by allotting land at Tuticorin. Since then, Mr. V.Gopalswamy (Vaiko), the general secretary of MDMK party has protested against the project.

On March 23, 2013, massive gas leak, suspected to be Sulphur dioxide or trioxide, caused suffocation and panic around the Sterlite Copper plant between 5 am and 8 am. One Sterlite contract worker, Shailesh Mahadev, 35, reportedly succumbed to exposure to the gas. Following the alleged leakage of noxious gas, residents of Tuticorin town, New Colony, market area, Perumalpuram and SIPCOT area said they experienced sneezing and a few complained of asphyxiation.

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Following the incident, environmental activists blamed the Sterlite Industries. They staged a demonstration near Rajaji Park on Palayamkottai Road and sought the closure of the copper smelter. Officials from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), Joint Chief Inspector of Factories, Revenue Divisional Officer K. Latha, and Tuticorin Tahsildar Alwar reached the Sterlite company and inspected the copper smelter unit.

TNPCB officials said a sensor in the smelter’s smokestack showed sulphur dioxide levels were more than double the permitted concentration at the time emissions were reported and had “breached limits prescribed by the Board”. TNPCB ordered the shutdown of the smelter with immediate effect until further notice.

However, Sterlite Industries denied the smelter was the source a gas leak. The smelter’s general manager of projects said there were no emissions at the time because the plant shut down for maintenance from March 21st to March 23rd was starting up after two days of maintenance, not producing copper, and high readings in the smokestack were likely a result of workers recalibrating the sensors.

Ashish Kumar, Collector of Tuticorin, said that preliminary inquiries suggested that there was a leak of sulphur dioxide.

The TNPCB issued the order to shut down the plant with immediate effect and the power utility on Friday night disconnected the power supply to the plant. We are in the process of stopping operations

The process of shutting down the plant began on Friday (March 29) night with the disconnection of the power supply to the plant.

MDMK’s general secretary Vaiko, thanked Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa for ordering closure in the interests of the public and to protect the environment.

National Green Tribunal (NGT), a fast-track court hearing the case on allowing the plant to reopen, set up an expert committee to measure emissions and check the working condition of machinery, among other things.

On May 31st, the NGT had, in an interim order, allowed Sterlite to commence operations under the supervision of the expert committee set up by the tribunal.

The expert committee submitted its report on July 10, 2013. “The emissions from all the stacks were well within the permissible limit prescribed by the Central Pollution Control Board when the plant was in normal operation. … Upon stack sampling or ambient air quality monitoring, it is not being found that the industry was emitting sulphur dioxide gas or substances when the plant was in normal operation, which were in violation to the prescribed standards,” the report states,” said the report by P.S.T. Sai and Ligy Philip.

The apex environment court said further in its order that the expert committee had made certain recommendations to improve the working of the plant. It also noted that Sterlite Industries has agreed to comply with the recommendations within a time-bound schedule.

Justice Swatanter Kumar

Justice Swatanter Kumar

On August 8, 2013, the National Green Tribunal headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar suppressed the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board closure notice served to Sterlite Industries. It upheld its interim orders of May 31 and July 15, which permitted the Vedanta Group’s Sterlite copper smelter factory in Tuticorin to resume full operations on the basis of the report submitted by the expert committee appointed by the tribunal. The National Green Tribunal gave its final clean chit to the Sterlite Industries’ copper smelter plant in Tuticorin. At the same time, keeping in mind the issues raised by the state pollution control board, the tribunal has issued a host of conditions which the factory must comply with. It has also set up a committee to check the health of people around Tuticorin and Sipcot industrial area in the district.

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I’m only a child, …


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj
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This incredible 20 years old video that I have included in this post made a deep impression on me.  I cried and sobbed listening to the 12-year-old girl.

Severn Cullis-SuzukiSevern Cullis-Suzuk was born on November 30, 1979 and raised in Vancouver, Canada. Her mother is writer Tara Elizabeth Cullis. Her father, geneticist and environmental activist David Suzuki, is a third-generation Japanese Canadian.

While attending Lord Tennyson Elementary School in French Immersion, at age 9, she founded the Environmental Children’s Organization (ECO), a group of children dedicated to learning and teaching other youngsters about environmental issues.

In 1992, at age 12, Severn raised money with members of ECO to attend the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the Rio Summit, Rio Conference, Earth Summit – a major United Nations conference held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 3 June to 14 June 1992, five thousand miles from their home.

Along with group members Michelle Quigg, Vanessa Suttil, and Morgan Geisler, Severn Cullis-Suzuki presented environmental issues from a youth perspective at the summit.

Severn spoke about the hole in the ozone layer, pollution, the devastation of the forests and extinction of many species of wild life and vegetation. She charged that we adults have no idea of how to fix these things, in fact can’t fix them, and that we must change our ways. “If you don’t know how to fix it, stop breaking it,” she pleaded.

Severn’s amazing speech left her audience completely stupefied and speechless. After she ended her speech she received a standing ovation.

She received a lot of praise for her speech in the press – even Al Gore Jr., 45th Vice President of the United States (1993–2001), under President Bill Clinton called it “the best speech at Rio.”

The video of her speech has since become a viral hit, popularly known as “The Girl Who Silenced the World for 5 Minutes”.  This video has 2,018,732 hits to date.

In 1993, she was honoured in the United Nations Environment Programme’s Global 500 Roll of Honour. In 1993, Doubleday published her book Tell the World, a 32-page book of environmental steps for families.

Here’s the transcript of her speech:

“Hello, I am Severn Suzuki speaking for E.C.O – the Environmental Children’s Organization.

We are a group of 12 and 13 year-olds trying to make a difference, Vanessa Suttie, Morgan Geisler, Michelle Quigg and me.

We’ve raised all the money to come here ourselves, to come 5,000 miles to tell you adults you must change your ways.

Coming up here today, I have no hidden agenda. I am fighting for my future.

Losing my future is not like losing an election, or a few points on the stock market.

I am here to speak for all generations to come.

I am here to speak on behalf of the starving children around the world whose cries go unheard.

I am here to speak for the countless animals dying across this planet, because they have nowhere left to go.

I am afraid to go out in the sun now, because of the holes in our ozone.

I am afraid to breathe the air, because I don’t know what chemicals are in it.

I used to go fishing in Vancouver, my home, with my Dad until, just a few years ago, we found a fish full of cancers.

And now we hear of animals and plants going extinct every day, vanishing forever.

In my life, I have dreamt of seeing the great herds of wild animals, jungles and rainforests full of birds and butterflies, but now I wonder if they will even exist for my children to see.

Did you have to worry of these things when you were my age?

All this is happening before our eyes and yet we act as if we have all the time we want and all the solutions.

I’m only a child and I don’t have all the solutions, but I want you to realize, neither do you.

You don’t know how to fix the holes in our ozone layer.

You don’t know how to bring the salmon back up a dead stream.

You don’t know how to bring back an animal now extinct.

And you can’t bring back the forest that once grew where there is now a desert.

If you don’t know how to fix it, please stop breaking it.

Here you may be delegates of your governments, business people, organizers, reporters or politicians. But, really, you’re mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles and all of you are someone’s child.

I’m only a child, yet I know we are all part of a family, 5 billion strong, in fact 30 million species strong. And borders and governments will never change that.

I’m only a child, yet I know we are all in this together and should act as one single world towards one single goal.

In my anger, I am not blind and in my fear I am not afraid of telling the world how I feel.

In my country we make so much waste, we buy and throw away, buy and throw away, buy and throw away and yet Northern countries will not share with the needy.

Even when we have more than enough we are afraid to share, we are afraid to let go of some of our wealth.

In Canada, we live a privileged life. We’ve plenty of food, water and shelter. We have watches, bicycles, computers and television sets. The list could go on for 2 days.

Two days ago here in Brazil, we were shocked when we spent time with some children living on the streets.

This is what one child told us, ‘I wish I was rich and if I were, I would give all the street children food, clothes, medicines, shelter and love and affection’.

If a child on the street who has nothing is willing to share, why are we who have everything still so greedy?

I can’t stop thinking that these are children my own age, that it makes a tremendous difference where you are born. And that I could be one of those children living in the favelas of Rio.

I could be a child starving in Somalia, or a victim of war in the Middle East or a beggar in India.

I am only a child, yet I know if all the money spent on war was spent on finding environmental answers ending poverty and in finding treaties, what a wonderful place this earth would be.

At school, even in kindergarten, you teach us how to behave in the world.

You teach us to not to fight with others, to work things out, to respect others and to clean up our mess, not to hurt other creatures, to share, not be greedy.

Then, why do you go out and do the things you tell us not to do?

Do not forget why you are attending these conferences, who you are doing this for.

We are your own children.

You are deciding what kind of a world we are growing up in.

Parents should be able to comfort their children by saying ‘Everything is going to be all right, it’s not the end of the world, and we are doing the best we can’.

But I don’t think you can say that to us anymore.

Are we even on your list of priorities?

My dad always says, ‘You are what you do, not what you say.’

Well, what you do makes me cry at night.

You grown-ups say you love us.

But I challenge you, please, make your actions reflect your words.

Thank you.

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