TNPCB rejects Sterlite plea to continue operations

By PTI Published on Apr 11, 2018 12:15 PM IST

Chennai: Tamilnadu Pollution Control Board yesterday said it has rejected Vedanta group firm Sterlite's plea to renew the consent to operate its Tuticorin unit, forcing the company to suspend copper smelting operations at the plant.

TNPC board norms were not "properly fulfilled" by Sterlite, board's chairman Mohammed Nazimuddin said in a release.

In view of this, the board has rejected the Vedanta's copper making unit Sterlite's application seeking renewal of consent to operate its existing plant, the release said.

The consent to operate accorded previously by the board ended on 31 March 2018.

The development comes amid about a two-month-long protest by local people, including students, against Sterlite alleging pollution and resultant serious health hazards to people. In a filing to BSE yesterday, Vedanta said its application has been rejected for want of more clarifications, adding it was evaluating further course of action.

"Please take note that the company had applied for renewal of consent to operate (CTO) for its existing smelter plant at Thoothukudi. The application has been rejected for want of more clarifications. The company is evaluating further course of action," it said.

On 27 March, the company had said as part of regular maintenance programme, its smelting operations at Thoothukudi had undergone maintenance shutdown for approximately 15 days.

The company yesterday said the "scheduled maintenance activities were supposed to be for a period of approximately 15 days from the said date (March 27, 2018)". It is now likely to be extended given the development, the release said. "The company shall update further developments from time to time," it added.

Residents of A Kumareddiapuram village in Tuticorn district have been protesting against the Sterlite plant for the last two months. The protest, which was against both Sterlite's expansion plan and its existing unit, has found support from political parties including the main opposition DMK and a slew of pro-Tamil outfits.

On 1 April, actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan had expressed solidarity with the protest against Sterlite. "The expansion (of Sterlite Copper, a unit of Vedanta) should not at all be allowed... if possible it will be good to close down this (existing) unit," he had said.

Recently, the State government had also said it was examining complaints of residents against the unit.

Actor Rajnikanth had recently said the government was not responding to protests by locals.

Sterlite Copper, a unit of Vedanta Limited, operates the 400,000 tonnes per annum plant in Tuticorin.