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No work in progress at Sterlite: Panel
C Kaliyaperumal, Director of Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change on Wednesday made it clear that no activity, construction of fresh structures or continuation of work at the disputed site, is taking place in the land allotted for expansion of the Sterlite copper unit.
Kaliyaperumal, who led the inspection of the trouble-hit copper smelter factory in Thoothukudi by a Central government team, told reporters that the company had built a few structures at the site, where the company planned to carry out expansion.
The inspection was conducted by the team formed by MoEF’s regional office acting on a petition submitted by Muthuraman, a Tirunelveli-based environmental activist. He had sought the ministry to initiate action against the factory citing that lands for the expansion was illegally allotted. Justifying his claim, the petitioner said that the land was allotted to Sterlite even before idea to set up the second phase of SIPCOT industrial complex was conceived.
Following this, the MoEF set up a team comprising its director, scientist Brijlal and officials from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, SIPCOT and the petitioner.
Kaliyaperumal said that the company had earlier commenced the work to lay concrete foundation to raise the main structure, rest rooms and vehicle parking shed at the disputed site as part of the expansion of the plant. “However, there is no progress as all the unit stopped all works after court order to close the factory,” he added.
The findings of the day-long inspection of the plant would be submitted as a report to the MoEF in New Delhi. Based on the report, the next course of action would be decided, he said.
Out of 1,616 acres of land demanded by the SIPCOT for its second phase or expansion in Thoothukudi, 1,242 acres were acquired and handed over to the MoEF for its approval. Meanwhile, the SIPCOT provided 324 acres to Sterlite for its expansion without a nod from MoEF, Central Pollution Control Board, Tamil Nadu PCB and Directorate of Town and Country Planning, claimed petitioner Muthuraman. Citing these violations, he said had sought action from the MoEF.