A National Green Tribunal (NGT) court Saturday dismissed the Tamil Nadu government’s order to close Vedanta’s Sterlite Copper plant in Thoothukudi. The state government has decided to challenge this order in the Supreme Court.
Despite noting various lapses and lack of clearances, the green tribunal allowed the plant to continue operation. It directed the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to issue a fresh order of renewal of consent and authorisation to handle hazardous substances.
The NGT also blamed TNPCB for “sitting on clearances” and noted that copper slag is not found to be hazardous. It also noted that the TNPCB did not make effort to ask Sterlite to make physical barriers to block leakage.
Further, Vedanta has been directed to deposit 2.5 crores as a token amount for their failures. The court also directed the company to spend Rs 100 crore within a period of three years for the welfare of inhabitants in the area. It also allowed the restoration of electricity in the plant.
In May, the state government had decided to shut down the Sterlite Copper plant, which accounts for a 40 per cent share in India’s annual copper production of 10 lakh tonnes, over alleged pollution.
NGT allows Vedanta to reopen Sterlite Copper in Thoothukudi with some conditions. Directs TNPCB to pass fresh order of renewal of consent and authorization to handle hazardous substances. Tribunal allows restoration of electricity in the plant. @IndianExpress
— Sowmiya Ashok (@sowmiyashok) December 15, 2018
Protests calling for Sterlite’s closure turned violent in May. At least 13 people were killed in police firing.