Following the closure of the Sterlite Copper plant at Thoothukudi, nearly 30 per cent of employees working in electrical and electronic equipment manufacturing units are facing the threat of losing their jobs due to shortage of the metal.

Sterlite used to supply nearly 30 per cent of copper to such small scale units.

“Today, we are in severe crisis and need an alternative source as importing it is too expensive,” said Hemanth Mehta, Treasurer, Copper Consumers' Association of South India.

The Association has around 75 units that employing around 20,000 people, he said.

“We are not here to debate whether the decision to close down the plant was right or wrong. We want a solution to the problem of shortage,” he told newspersons.

On May 23, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board ordered the closure of the plant two days after 10 persons were killed in police firing while protesting against the copper smelting unit.

Mehta said the sudden stoppage of supply has created a huge scarcity of copper and price has increased by nearly 10 per cent, which is a huge cost for small units. It is not possible to import copper at short notice and clients will not compensate for the additional cost incurred, he said.

The Association members today met the Tamil Nadu Industry Minister MC Sampath urging the government to find a solution to their problem, he said.

The Winding Wires Manufacturers’ Association of India too, said that its units are also hit as they depended on Sterlite for nearly 50 per cent of their requirement.

The current economic growth implies annually 10-15 per cent growth in copper consumption and doubling by 2025. If the closure continues, the industry will be forced to import copper at 5 per cent more than the domestic price, the Association said.