The country has become a net importer of copper for the first time in the last two decades, rather than the exporter, resulting in heavy import bills. This has further left many people unemployed, and to the exodus of the migrants.
Concerned over the issue of the Sterlite Copper plant closure in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu, for the past two years, Vedanta Resources Group chairman Anil Agarwal wrote to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking help in reopening the plant. In a two-page letter to Modi, Agarwal said that the closure of Vedanta’s 20-year-old copper Sterlite plant and seven-year-old Thermal power plant have impacted the country in multiple ways. The country has become a net importer of copper for the first time in the last two decades, rather than the exporter, resulting in heavy import bills. This has further left many people unemployed, and to the exodus of the migrants.
Adding to the consequences faced due to closure, Agarwal said that the country faced loss of payments of over $1,200 million (Rs 40,000 crore) in foreign exchange. ‘Pakistan has gained over India’s loss’ due to this. He informed that Islamabad’s copper shipments to China increased to $550 million last year, i.e. 400% from $106 million three years ago. China and Pakistan are clearly benefiting from the closure of the plants, which accounted for almost 40% of India’s total copper production and more than half of total exports, the majority of which went to China and Taiwan. He added that Pakistan’s website confirmed that the shipments of the copper had helped boost their local industry. “Chinese firms are also vying to capture India’s copper market,” he pointed out.
Agarwal also stressed the fact that the closure has led to the idling and rusting of precious machinery and materials. There has been a major loss of revenue to the exchequers of both the Centre and the Government of Tamil Nadu in the form of taxes, due to the closure of its seven-year-old thermal power plant, the Vedanta chairman said, and added that the 20-year-old Sterlite Copper plant was “state-of-art with best technologies, environment friendly and highly efficient”. The chairman has requested the PM to take the judicial call to initiate measures to reopen the plants, considering the overall interest of the economy and employment, two of which are the major components to develop the country’s foundation of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, and Sabka Vishwas.’ In the letter, he also praised Modi for his “daunting spirit and dogged and tenacious leadership” in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. “Your proactive step has saved our country from potential disaster and serious devastation,” it read.