Is Amara Raja heading to TN?
With the AP pollution control board slapping it with a closure notice, the firm is reportedly being wooed by the TN govt
Caught in political crossfire and slapped with Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board notices to shut down its batteries manufacturing units in Chittoor, Amara Raja Batteries Ltd may choose Tamil Nadu for locating its plants.
The company is also considering relocating its plants elsewhere, according to reliable sources. The move to set up a new plant and, possibly, later to relocate the existing plants has created a buzz in industry circles with the management of Amara Raja Batteries headed by Jayadev Galla family seeking Tamil Nadu government’s support.
Meanwhile, the High Court on July 26 extended the interim suspension of APPCB’s closure orders by four weeks and the next hearing is scheduled on August 16. The company informed that it has been working closely with the State pollution control board officials to resolve the issue.
Amara Raja Batteries recently informed the BSE: “We would like to reiterate that the company has always placed highest priority on the environment, health and safety of its workforce and communities around it.”
Tamil Nadu beckons
According to sources, while several States have invited the company to consider their new investments with them, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin himself has expressed his intent to extend support.
Officials in Tamil Nadu government, however, did not respond to queries for confirmation.
Also, it is not yet clear whether this is to take forward just the expansion plan or to pave the way for total relocation of its plants from Andhra Pradesh. Even though the matter is under Andhra Pradesh High Court consideration, which had granted stay of APPCB notice of closure, this talk has gained ground, as the company is facing heat from inspections from several departments on one issue or the other.
However, there has been no official word from the company, the country’s second largest battery maker with revenues close to a $1 billion. The company is allegedly being hounded by its political opponents.
Gallas, the promoters, are with the Telugu Desam Party, with Jayadev Galla himself a TDP Member of Parliament. YSRCP, now in power in the State, is a political rival.
Reacting to developments, Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy, Advisor to AP Government, mentioned about the State High Court observations on toxic substances emanating from the unit and felt that nothing is more important than public health.
It may be recalled in April, the APPCB had issued closure notice to two of the company units at Karambadi and Nunegundlapalli in Chittoor district for violating norms. The company maintains it has complied with the pollution norms and cooperated with APPCB enquiry, but observers feel this is a politically motivated move to stifle the company’s functioning. According to informed sources, the company is actively considering a plant in the neighbouring State and possibly shift its plants.