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Oxygen from Sterlite: the wait continues

TE Raja Simhan Chennai | Updated on May 13, 2021

Collector K Senthil Raj inspecting Sterlite Copper’s oxygen plant along with officials in Thoothukudi on Tuesday   -  The Hindu

Company officials remain tight-lipped on production even as State reels under shortage

 

When will oxygen production start at the Sterlite copper smelter plant in Thoothukudi? This is a question that everyone is asking in backdrop of the prevailing shortage of oxygen.

On May 6, Tamil Nadu Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan, in a status report to the Madras High Court on oxygen production at Sterlite, said that initially it is likely to produce 35 tonnes of liquid medical oxygen daily and can be obtained only in a week’s time.

There were speculations in the media that production was supposed to start on Tuesday. However, there is no clarity yet on the commencement of the production.

“Oxygen production today is not possible,” said a senior government official in the know.

The State government has provided electricity and water connection to the plant, and the company has committed to give 35 tonnes a day. “Let’s wait when it comes,” is all the official could say.

‘No word on when’

Company officials declined to comment when asked about the likely production date.

With medical oxygen in high demand due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Vedanta group on April 21 offered to supply oxygen from its closed Sterlite copper plant at Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu. It wrote separate letters to Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan; Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary in this regard.

Vedanta said that the plant contains two oxygen plants with a combined capacity to produce 1,050 tonnes of oxygen daily. “We would like to now offer these facilities for your use towards ensuring that there is no lack of this vital commodity in the nation,” Pankaj Kumar, CEO, Sterlite Copper, said in the letter.

Published on May 11, 2021

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