New Delhi: The Supreme Court has refused to allow the reopening of Vedanta’s controversial Tuticorin copper factory, revoking a previous order from the National Green Tribunal (NGT) for restarting the copper smelter in Tamil Nadu. A bench headed by Justice RF Nariman, however, said that the miner can seek an urgent hearing in the case from the Madras High Court.
TN government appealed NGT order to SC
The environmental court, in its December 15 order, had dismissed the Tamil Nadu government’s order shutting down the Sterlite Copper factory in Thoothukudi run by Vedanta. In a blow to the company’s plans to reopen its operations, the state government had appealed to the SC against this order.
The National Green Tribunal has no authority to order the plant’s reopening, the apex court said. On January 8, the Supreme Court had stayed the NGT order. It had also stayed the December 21 decision of the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court to order status quo regarding plant’s reopening.
The state had moved the Supreme Court, saying the environmental court had “erroneously” revoked various orders passed by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) last year regarding the Sterlite plant.
Saying it was “non-sustainable” and “unjustified,” the environmental court, on December 15, had rejected the Tamil Nadu government’s order to shut down the copper plant.
Sterlite factory was closed in 2013
After complaints of causing environmental harm, the Sterlite Factory was closed in 2013. The factory was restarted after the SC ruled in its favour but directed it to spend Rs 100 crore to safeguard the environment in the area.
On May 22, around 13 people were killed with several injured after police had opened fire on a crowd of protesters who were part of an agitation against the environment pollution allegedly caused by the factory.