SC refuses to permit Vedanta to restart its TN plant

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 2

The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a petition by Vedanta Ltd to restart its Sterlite copper unit at Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu which has been closed since May 2018 over pollution concerns.

A Bench headed by Justice RF Nariman wasn’t convinced with the company’s arguments that it wanted to operate it for four weeks to assess the pollution level. However, it said the final hearing would take place after physical hearings commence next year.

Vedanta said it needed two months to start the unit and it should be allowed to run it for four weeks to ascertain if it’s polluting or not but Tamil Nadu Government opposed the company’s plea saying the plant had been “polluting consistently”.

On behalf of the company, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi argued that it was a “case of mala fide closure of the plant” and Vedanta was producing 36 per cent of India’s total copper demand.

However, on behalf of some villagers residing near the plant, senior advocate Colin Gonsalves contended the unit shouldn’t be allowed to operate as water was getting contaminated and people were suffering from diseases such as cancer.

Vedanta had moved the top court challenging the Madras High Court order refusing to allow reopening of the Tuticorin plant. The High Court had upheld the orders of Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board directing closure of the unit in May 2018. Thirteen people had died in police firing on May 21 and 22, 2018 during violent protests against the plant.

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