Sterlite Copper is a subsidiary of Sterlite industries, a company owned by Vedanta Limited.
|Successor||Sesa Sterlite Limited|
|Founded||8 September 1975, Calcutta,India|
|Anil Agarwal |
|Revenue||₹126.58 billion (2007-08)|
Number of employees
Sterlite operated the largest copper smelter plant in India, in Thoothukudi from 1998 to 2018. This plant was shut down by the Government of Tamil Nadu in May 2018 after protests from locals but not operational from March 2018. The plant also included a refinery, a phosphoric acid plant and a sulphuric acid plant.
The company’s main operating subsidiaries are Hindustan Zinc Limited for its zinc and lead operations; Copper Mines of Tasmania Pty Limited for its copper operations in Australia; and Bharat Aluminium Company Limited for its aluminium operations. It also operates a copper mine in Australia.
On 23 Feb 2001, Sterlite bought 51% stake in Bharat Aluminium Co. from the government of India by $118.5 million. In September 2013, SESA Goa, Sterlite Industries and Vedanta Aluminium merged to form Sesa Sterlite Limited.
In 2001, Sterlite industries, BPL and Videocon were found guilty by SEBI of having colluded with Harshad Mehta and 17 brokers (10 from BSE and 7 from NSE) in a bid to corner shares and rig shares prices. This resulted in a ban on the company from accessing capital markets for 2 years. In 2003, Vedanta Resources (UK) was listed on the London Stock Exchange in the second largest floatation of the year in LSE. Vedanta Resources is a holding company that owns many entities including a large proportion of Vedanta Limited and Sterlite industries.
The Thoothukudi Copper Smelting plant has been long-opposed by the local residents for polluting their environment as well as causing a range of health problems and has been subject to several closures, on grounds of violating environmental norms.
The National Environmental Research Institute (NEERI) and the TNPCB have found evidence that Sterlite contaminated the groundwater, air and soil with its effluents and also violated standards of operation.
In 2010, the Madras High Court had ordered a shut down of the same plant, for violating environmental regulations which was subsequently challenged by the group in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, in April, 2013 struck down the Madras high court’s order and instead fined Sterlite Rs 100 crore for polluting the environment and for operating the plant without a renewal of the consents by TNPCB. Post a favorable ruling by the National Green Tribunal, the plant soon reopened.
In the meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board on March, 2013 re-ordered a closure of the plant on grounds of leakage of gas, leading to nausea and skin irritation among local inhabitants.
In March and April 2018, there were renewed mass-protests against the company's plans of setting up a second smelting complex and demands of an entire shutdown of the smelting plants, on grounds of violating environmental regulations were raised. On 22 May 2018 the protests took a deadlier when 20,000 protesters turned violent and subsequently police had to resort to lathi charge and shooting. In the event referred to as Thoothukudi massacre 14 people were killed and several others injured. Section 144 was imposed to control the situation.
On 28 May 2018, the Government of Tamil Nadu ordered the permanent closure of Sterlite plant in Thoothukudi. This action of TN Government was set aside by NGT on 15 December 2018, directing the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board to pass fresh order of renewal of consent and authorization to handle hazardous substances. Though the Supreme Court of India set aside these directions on appeal by TN Government, Justices R F Nariman and Naveen Sinha held on 18 February 2019 that the NGT had no jurisdiction to entertain the matter. But the ADMK parties are given rights to approach the Madras High Court.
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