Vedanta Ltd is planning to set up a 5,00,000 ton per annum (tpa) copper smelter plant in a coastal region in India.

Is Vedanta Ltd planning to shift its 400,000 tpa copper smelter plant in Tuticorin which has been shut down by Tamil Nadu government — to some other coastal region in India is the moot question.

The company has sought expression of interest from coastal states wishing to partner in the project that would have an investment potential of about Rs 10,000 crore through a newspaper advertisement on Wednesday.

According to Vedanta, the proposed project would need about 1,000 acres in proximity to port along with logistics connectivity with conveyor/corridor of rail and road to handle five million tpa material movement on both in-bound and out-bound sides.

The company said the project has the potential to provide direct and indirect employment to 10,000 people and will contribute about Rs 3,000 crore to the government treasury as taxes and others.

Senior officials were not available to answer IANS to the query whether the company is exiting Tuticorin.

The Tamil Nadu government had ordered the copper smelter plant to be shut down in 2018 following a violent protest that led to the death of 13 persons in police firing.

The 400,000 ton Sterlite Copper smelter plant has been operating in Tuticorin for over 25 years with a cumulative investment of about Rs 3,000 crore.

However, from the start, Sterlite Copper smelter plant has been facing protests by the local people alleging that it pollutes the environment.

Originally the plant was planned in Goa but it faced severe opposition from the state’s people. However, the AIADMK regime under J. Jayalalithaa gave a warm welcome to the project and allotted land at Tuticorin.

Ever since then the plant was in the eye of storm with MDMK leader Vaiko leading a protest against the project and later filing a case.

The major political parties in Tamil Nadu — AIADMK and DMK — are against Vedanta’s copper smelter plant in Tuticorin.

The Supreme Court is hearing the case on an appeal filed by the company against the Madras High Court’s refusal to reopen the Sterlite Copper smelter plant in Tuticorin.

“The next hearing in the Supreme Court will be in August. The advertisement by the company seems they may be exiting Tuticorin,” said Fatima Babu, one of the persons who had filed a case against Sterlite Copper told IANS.