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Thoothukudi Sterlite plant to stay shut, Madras HC dismisses Vedanta's plea

The Sterlite Copper unit was shut by the Tamil Nadu government on May 27, 2018, following protests against expansion of the plant by locals that ended in police firing killing 13 civilians.

Thoothukudi Sterlite plant to stay shut, Madras HC dismisses Vedantas plea
File photo


The Madras High Court on Tuesday dismissed Vedanta Ltd's plea to reopen its Sterlite Copper smelter unit in Thoothukudi

People in Thoothukudi who are against the copper smelter plant celebrated the court order by bursting firecrackers and distributing sweets. Political leaders too have welcomed the order.

The order was delivered by Justices T.S. Sivagnanam and V. Bhavani Subbaroyan. The court said the ban on the plant would continue.

The copper smelter plant was shut down by the state government following a protest that led to the deaths of 13 people in police firing in May 2018. Ever since the copper smelter plant was permitted in Thoothukudi several years back people had been protesting against it alleging it of polluting the environment around.

In 2019, Vedanta had approached the High Court and sought a direction to the Tamil Nadu government to allow the copper smelter plant's reopening.

The Supreme Court had earlier told Vedanta to approach the High Court in a petition filed by Tamil Nadu government against the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order to reopen the plant.

The apex court also held that the NGT does not have the jurisdiction to hear the appeal filed by Vedanta against the plant closure order issued by the state government.

The NGT in December 2018 had directed the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board to issue Renewal of Consent and issue authorisation to Vedanta to handle the hazardous substances.

Meanwhile the High Court verdict has been welcomed by Tamil Nadu Fisheries Minister D.Jayakumar, DMK President M.K.Stalin, MDMK General Secretary Vaiko and others.

Welcoming the order Jayakumar said the government is against reopening of the plant.

Stalin termed the High Court order as the one that respected the people's feelings and the one that would protect humanity.

He said the Tamil Nadu government instead of closing the plant by issuing an order should have called a meeting of the cabinet and taken a policy level decision to close down the plant.

Stalin said Chief Minister K.Palaniswami should call a meeting of the cabinet immediately and pass a resolution welcoming the court order and also make it a law.

The DMK's Lok Sabha member from Tuticorin constituency Kanimozhi said the court order stresses that the "economic growth at the cost of environment is dangerous".

She also urged the state government to file a caveat petition in the apex court so that when an appeal is filed by Vedanta the government's view is also heard before passing an order.

Jayakumar said the closure order shows the government's policy towards the plant.

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