Thoothukudi district collector Sandeep Nanduri said on Monday that gases and acids in the plant area would be removed by the end of this month. “Evacuation of all the components would be carried out simultaneously and we plan to complete the operation of removing these gases by July 31,” he said.
A high-level committee comprising officials from the district administration, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, power distributor Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Company, officials from fire and rescue services department and industrial safety visited the massive plant on the outskirts of Thoothukudi (Tuticorin) on Saturday.
The committee has recommended evacuation of acid and gases from the plant since it has been shut permanently. The move comes close on the heels of the district administration evacuating 2,124 metric tonnes of sulphuric acid from the Sterlite Copper unit in the third week of June.
After the evacuation, Sterlite Copper had sought permission from the court for access to the plant to remove the gases alleging that they could be dangerous if not released at the right time.
Since the quantity of gypsum is high when compared to other components, Nanduri said the operation to clean gypsum might take longer than expected. Sterlite Copper plant was sealed on May 28 by the Tamil Nadu Government following protests that turned violent resulting in the death of 13 persons due to police firing. Bowing to demands from the locals and activists, the Tamil Nadu government shut the plant permanently and issued a Government Order in this regard.
The protests against the expansion of Sterlite Copper led to people coming out in large numbers in opposition against the plant.