Sterlite Copper: Profit Versus Public Health
Sterlite Copper (Sterlite), owned by Vedanta Resources Limited (Vedanta), was one of three major copper plants in India. However, the plant had been the subject of controversy and public protests. The people residing in Tuticorin, where the plant was located, considered Sterlite to be a major contributor to the air and water pollution in the neighbouring area. In light of the latest public protest on May 23, 2018, which was supported by several national and international non-government organizations, human rights activists, and Tamil solidarity groups, the Government of Tamil Nadu ordered a permanent shutdown of the plant. Since the plant contributed around 5 per cent to Vedanta's operating profit, the closure of the plant not only threatened the earnings and profitability of the parent company but also damaged its brand image. The plant was a major source of copper for over 400 small and medium-sized industries in its downstream value chain. The closure of the plant put at risk the jobs of a large number of employees, which Sterlite supported both directly and indirectly through its value chain. What should Vedanta do in such a hostile environment? Veena Keshav Pailwar is affiliated with Institute of Management Technology, Nagpur.