Vedanta copper unit draws ire of movie stars on pollution claims

(Bloomberg) — Vedanta Ltd.’s plan to expand a copper smelter in India as part of an $8 billion drive to boost its national production capacity for metals is being dogged by movie stars and local protesters.

Stars-turned-politicians Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan are lending their voices to protests by neighboring villagers against the plant in Tamil Nadu because of health concerns. Vedanta is working on doubling the capacity at the 400,000 metric ton-a-year smelter, which was shut last week for 15 days for regular maintenance, it said.

Actor Rajinikanth tweeted questioning government approval for the factory, while Kamal Haasan made a trip to the locality demanding closure of the plant.

The smelter received all the necessary regulatory clearances for the expansion and Vedanta was committed to the well-being of the surrounding communities, the company said Monday. It uses zero discharge systems and waste for sustainable applications as well as stringent emission monitoring, it said.

The smelter protests come after the Anil Agarwal-owned commodity giant’s iron ore operations were hit when the nation’s top court banned mining in the state of Goa from mid-March.

(Written by Swansy Afonso and Ganesh Nagarajan)