NGT to hear Vedanta's plea over Tuticorin plant today

By PTI Published on Jul 30, 2018 10:07 AM IST

New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal is scheduled to hear today a plea by mining major Vedanta, which has challenged the Tamilnadu government's order to permanently shut down its Sterlite copper plant in Tuticorin.

The matter will come up before a bench headed by NGT chairperson A K Goel. On July 5, the tribunal had issued notices to the state government and the pollution board seeking their responses after Tamilnadu raised preliminary objection with regard to the maintainability of Vedanta's plea.

The Tamilnadu 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.

Earlier in April, the Tamilnadu pollution control board had rejected Sterlite's plea to renew the Consent To Operate certification, saying the company had not complied with the stipulated conditions. Following this, the government had issued a permanent closure notice to the plant.

Vedanta's plea in the NGT seeks permission to operate the unit and a direction to declare as unlawful and illegal the exercise of powers by the Tamilnadu government in passing the closure order under section 18(1)(b) of the Water Act. Sterlite's factory had made headlines in March, 2013 when a gas leak led to the death of one person and several others were injured, after which then chief minister J Jayalalithaa had ordered its closure.

The company had then appealed to the NGT, which had overturned the government order. The state had then moved the Supreme Court against it and the case is still pending. Following the latest protests and police firing, the plant was closed on March 27.

The Supreme Court has also ordered the company to pay a fine of Rs 100 crore.

After Sterlite announced its plans to expand the Tuticorin plant, villagers around it started fresh protests that continued for over 100 days, culminating in the May 22 police firing on protestors that claimed 13 lives and left scores injured.