Sterlite Plant in Tuticorin to Reopen as Supreme Court Refuses to Stay NGT Order
A file image of Supreme Court and Sterlite Copper Smelter Plant. | Image Courtesy: PTI

New Delhi, January 7: The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to stay the NGT order to reopen Vedanta Ltd’s Sterlite copper plant at Tuticorin. The apex court dismissed the petition of the Tamil Nadu government, which had contended that the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had no jurisdiction in the matter. The NGT on December 15 last year had set aside the Tamil Nadu government order for closure of the Sterlite copper plant, saying it was “non-sustainable” and “unjustified”. The state government then moved to the Supreme Court against the order.

The plea, filed through advocate M Yogesh Kanna, had said that the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has “erroneously” set aside various orders passed by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) last year with regard to the Sterlite plant. "The final impugned judgment and order dated December 15, 2018, is liable to be set aside by this Court as the Tribunal failed to consider the data, document and evidence furnished by TNPCB to prove that the respondent no.1 (Vedanta) herein had irreversibly polluted the groundwater in and around Thoothukudi District,” the petition had said while seeking a stay on the NGT verdict.

The Tamil Nadu government had, on May 28, ordered the state pollution control board to seal and “permanently” close the mining group’s copper plant following violent protests over pollution concerns. At least 13 people were killed and several injured on May 22 last year when police opened fire on a large crowd of people protesting against environment pollution being allegedly caused by the plant. In April, the TNPCB had rejected Sterlite’s plea to renew the ‘Consent To Operate’ certification, saying the company had not complied with the stipulated conditions.

The NGT had allowed the appeal of the company challenging the plant’s closure. The green panel said the company should spend within three years Rs 100 crore on the welfare of inhabitants of the area as it had offered to do. (With agency inputs)