The National Green Tribunal (NGT) today set aside AIADMK led Tamil Nadu government’s order of permanently closing down the Sterlite copper smelter plant owned by Vedanta Ltd situated in Thoothukudi. The Green court issued directions for the Tamil Nadu State pollution regulator (TNPCB) and the Vedanta Ltd. It has directed the Tamil Nadu state pollution regulator to pass fresh order of renewal of consent for the smelter within three weeks and has directed the company to spend Rs 100 crore within 3 years for the welfare of the people in the area.
The plant which contributed 40% of the copper to overall demands in India was shut down following violent protests in the month of May this year. A report by the CEO of the Sterlite had estimated that the closure of the plant will affect around 30,000 direct and indirect jobs would disrupt the smelter supply to around 800 small and medium industries.
The protesting NGOs and pressure groups had accused the Sterlite plant of contaminating the local environment by discharging various harmful waste which, as claimed by the protesters, has also lead to an increase in the cancer cases in the region. Vedanta denying the allegations of the protesting groups had claimed to have adhered to all norms.
The Committee constituted by the NGT in its report has termed the closure of the Sterlite plant as unjustified and against “natural justice”. The Committee headed by Former Chief Justice of Meghalaya High Court Tarun Agarwal observed that Sterlite was not given sufficient time to respond to the allegations of the TNPCB.
Tamil Nadu state government has said it will challenge the NGT order in Supreme Court.