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Sterlite Copper reopening case adjourned to April 23
The Madras High Court has refused to take up early hearing of an additional affidavit moved by Sterlite Copper, a unit of Vedanta Limited, seeking to allow maintenance of the unit as lack of care and maintenance is causing grave harm to the equipment.
A division bench comprising Justice M. Sathyanarayanan and Justice Nirmal Kumar Senior on recording the submission made on the behalf of the State that ever since the closure of Sterlite in Thoothukudi there has been improvement in the environment and quality of the ground water directed to State to test the quality of air as well as water.
The bench was hearing a batch of petitions from Vedanta Limited, seeking a direction to quash the closure order passed by the State government and with an interim prayer to permit the unit to take up the maintenance work of the factory.
However, in the counter, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board informed the court that hazardous materials are being maintained and removed from the unit under the direct supervision of Local Level Monitoring Committee which was constituted under the Chairmanship of Sub Collector, Thoothukudi.
Also, stating that there is no grave urgency at this stage which deserved the intervention of the High Court, the counter noted that regards care and maintenance of equipment’s the industry is at liberty to make a valid representation to the above monitoring committee itself which will take technical feasibility test of the same, consider and thereafter pass appropriate orders.
However, the counsel appearing for Sterlite Copper submitted that the smelting plant is being continuously targeted and propagated in the negative light as part of a vicious design.
It was also submitted that more than thousands of people have been unemployed since the closure of the plant and the reopening of the plant is not only an industrial issue but relates to welfare and livelihood of thousands of families in Tamil Nadu.
Also, noting that as much as 60 crore is spent annually on its maintenance and quadrennial turnaround shutdown activities for improving the asset care quality and safety/environment, the council also noted that as many as 161 impleading petitions has been moved by the locals seeking to resume the plant’s functioning and pointed out that during the hearing into the main plea, which seeks to reopen the closed plant, pleas from third parties unconnected with the issue should not be entertained.
MDMK leader Vaiko who had moved an impleading petition in support of the closure, sought to hear the case on conclusion of the elections after April 18. However, the bench posted the case to April 23 for further hearing.