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SC refuses to stay the NGT order on Tuticorin Sterlite plant reopening

The Sterlite copper smelting plant was shut down by the Tamil Nadu government in May last year.

The apex court on Tuesday declined to stay an NGT order to reopen the Sterlite copper smelting plant in Tuticorin, a coastal city in southern Tamil Nadu.

A bench comprising of Justice RF Nariman requested a response from Vedanta on the state government’s appeal against the National Green Tribunal’s order to reopen the plant. The state had earlier moved to the top court, stating that the NGT had “incorrectly” set aside various orders passed by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) last year with regard to the Sterlite plant.

In May last year, the Tamil Nadu government had passed an order to shut down the copper smelting plant owned by Vedanta in Tuticorin. 13 protestors had died and several others were injured when protests against the plant had turned violent.

In December 2018, the National Green Tribunal quashed the Tamil Nadu government’s decision to close the copper plant. The Green court had then directed the Tamil Nadu state pollution regulator to pass fresh order of renewal of consent for the smelter within three weeks and instructed the company to spend Rs 100 crore within 3 years for the welfare of the people in the area.

However, the Madras High Court later countered it and ordered temporary closure for a month. The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court comprising of Justice K K Sasindhran and Justice P D Audikesavalu ordered ‘status quo’ in Sterlite Copper plant case, staying the National Green Tribunal’s permission of reopening it.

Mounting an attack on the government, chief of the MDMK party, Vaiko said that Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami’s government did not take a policy decision on the plant. He accused the AIADMK government of being in cahoots with the Sterlite management.

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