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Green tribunal gives Sterlite plant go-ahead

It has not been established that the industrial activity prejudicially and in any way compromises the environment or interests of future generations.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi |
August 9, 2013 3:29:21 am

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar quashed Thursday a Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board closure notice and made final and absolute its May 31 interim order permitting the Sterlite Industries copper smelting plant in Tuticorin to continue operations.

“It is not a case of promoting development at the cost of environment. It has not been established that the industrial activity prejudicially and in any way compromises the environment or interests of future generations,” it held.

The tribunal also slammed the closure notice issued in March,allegedly after complaints by residents in the vicinity of harmful emissions and health-related problems. It noted there was no cogent evidence of such emissions and the closure notice was a punitive action in the garb of a preventive measure.

“The order suffers from the vice of arbitrariness and cannot be sustained,” the tribunal said.

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NGT made it clear the suggestions of an inspection committee appointed by it would be binding on the Vedanta group company. It also constituted a special committee to “study and place on record the causes for health hazards in and around industries and industrial clusters.”

Sterlite said it shall implement all recommendations of the NGT-appointed expert committee in a time-bound manner and work closely with regulatory authorities and the government to ensure the highest environment standards.

NGT said shutting down an industry amounted to “civil death” of a company with far-reaching economic,social and labour consequences. It relied on the expert committee report that the unit was non-polluting and non-health hazardous.

The tribunal also directed the state pollution control board to expeditiously decide a Sterlite application for renewal of licence.

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