TN to weigh legal options on Sterlite expansion plans: Govt

By NT Bureau Published on Apr 01, 2018 10:20 AM IST

 Chennai, Apr 1: The Tamilnadu government would consider taking legal route on proposed expansion plans of the Vedanta Group for setting up of Copper smelting unit-II in Tuticorin, Environment Minister K C Karuppannan has said.

In an official release, the Minister said the government is considering to look at legal options on the proposed expansion plan by the company which had received environmental and forest clearances in 2009.

The pollution levels from the existing copper smelting plant at Tuticorin was being monitored on a 24x7 basis, he said, adding the pollution factors meet the norms prescribed by the State Pollution Control Board which has given the sanction to operate it.

The company has sought the renewal of the sanctioning order following its expiry, he said. It is being considered based on the condition of existing machinery set up by the company to check pollution, he said.

Recalling an earlier incident in which the late chief minister J Jayalalithaa had directed the closure of the unit in March 2013 after people complained of irritation in the eyes following increase in pollution levels, the minister said the company made an appeal at the National Greet Tribunal which cancelled the closure order.

The Tribunal had formed an expert committee and based on 10 conditions put forth by it, the NGT allowed the company to operate the unit, he said. The AIADMK government moved the Supreme Court against the Tribunal's decision and the matter is pending in the apex court, he said.

Meanwhile, as protests by the locals continued against the expansion plans, Tamil superstar Rajinikanth took a dig at the ruling AIADMK, saying the government was not responding to the protests.

In a tweet, he said people had been protesting against the Sterlite Copper Smelter plant for the past 47 days citing health concerns. Sterlite Copper, a Vedanta Group company, produces four lakh tonnes per year at the plant in Tuticorin, about 600 kms from here.