Land allocation for Sterlite expansion cancelled

Chennai: The allotment of land for the proposed expansion of Vedanta group's copper plant in Thoothukudi was today cancelled in larger public interest by the State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu Ltd (SIPCOT), an official release said.

The move comes a day after the Tamilnadu government ordered the State Pollution Control Board to seal and permanently close the Sterlite Copper plant following last week's protests, over pollution concerns, during which 13 people were killed in police firing.

"As the allotment of land for the proposed expansion has been made by SIPCOT, in larger public interest, the land allotment made by SIPCOT for proposed expansion of copper smelter plant (phase-2) by Vedanta Ltd is hereby cancelled," SIPCOT said in its communication to the Vedanta group. "The land price collected for the said land allotment will be refunded as per the norms of SIPCOT," it said.

There have been a series of agitations against the establishment of a copper plant at the SIPCOT industrial complex in Thoothukudi, about 600 km from here, expressing concerns about the pollution caused, it added. An official release here said, "The cancellation of allotment of 342.22 acres of land has been made in larger public interest and this has been communicated to the company."

Chief Minister K Palaniswami had yesterday said the State government had issued the directive to seal and 'permanently' close the copper unit, in deference to the 'sentiments' of the people. "In deference to the opinion and sentiments of the general public, it was decided to close down the Sterlite plant and a Government Order has been issued today," he had said. Vedanta Ltd termed the closure unfortunate and said it would decide the future course of action after studying the development.

The court had also directed the Centre to submit within four months a report after holding a public hearing in the district to invite public opinion on the plan for expansion. The locals were protesting for the closure of the factory for 99 days. Protesters turned violent on 22 May, the 100th day of their stir, and 13 people were killed in police action against them last Tuesday and Wednesday.


The Madras High Court had on 23 May stayed the expansion of Vedanta's copper smelter plant in Thoothukudi district on a petition filed by environmental activist Fathima Babu. The petitioner submitted that Vedanta Limited should be restrained from carrying out activities in the lands on which the proposed copper smelter unit-II was being constructed.