Tamil Nadu Minister Kadamboor Raju has clearly stated that the Sterlite Copper plant in Thoothukudi cannot be reopened. However, he assured the former employees and vendors of the plant that they will be given jobs.
A group of contract employees with the now-defunct Sterlite copper smelter plant in Thoothukudi, which was closed by the state administration, petitioned the state Information and Publicity Minister Kadambur C Raju on Sunday asking him to take steps to reopen the plant or provide them with alternative employment.
“It's been more than a month since the plant was closed. We all have been without work," said Ponraj, former panchayat president of Therku Veerapandipuram. He led the villagers in making the representation to the minister.
They alleged that the plant had been closed based on the rumours and said they have associated with the company for more than 23 years and they don't face any health issues.
He added, there are more than 15,000 people who have directly associated with Sterlite Copper for their livelihood.
Meeting former staff of the plant and residents of Chidambarapuram, who have also petitioned, near Kovilpatti, the minister said the plant’s closure was a policy decision of the state government. However, he assured those who had lost their jobs that the government had taken steps to make alternate arrangements. The minister said the plant's former employees would be given preference for jobs in government projects.
Residents of Thoothukudi have campaigned for the closure of the plant for over 20 years charging Sterlite of polluting the environment. On May 22, an anti-Sterlite rally ended with police opening fire on protesters, killing 13. The government had since issued an order to seal the plant.