The Supreme Court Tuesday upheld the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order allowing the reopening of the Sterlite Copper smelter plant in Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu.
In May 2018, the state government had ordered that the smelter be shut after protests over the plant’s alleged pollution led to widespread violence, during which police had killed 13 demonstrators. After the NGT allowed the plant to reopen in December, the AIADMK government moved a petition in the Supreme Court, arguing that the tribunal had “erroneously” set aside various orders passed by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) with regard to the plant.
However, a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice R F Nariman refused to stay the NGT order, and sought a reply from Vedanta, which runs the plant, on the state government’s appeal.
A Sterlite spokesperson told The Indian Express said the company will soon approach the TNPCB with the court order for the renewal of consent. “If there are further challenges from the part of the government, we are directed to approach Supreme Court again with an interim petition,” he said.
The state government is likely to file a review petition as the reopening of the Sterlite plant may trigger massive protests again. However, the massive protests and subsequent killing of demonstrators in May 2018 means that all major political parties are closely watching the development.
While the AIADMK government on Tuesday said it will immediately take a decision after studying the apex court order, the opposition DMK party demanded that the government to explain the latest scenario and the steps taken by it. MDMK leader Vaiko said he will implead in the ongoing case.
T T V Dhinakaran, a AIADMK rebel who has launched the AMMK party, said it was the apathy of state government that led to the failure of government’s stand in the Supreme Court. Stating that the court order was “painful” considering the sentiments of the people, he said the Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami government did not take efforts to protect the interests of people.