Tamil Nadu

Sterlite case listed for hearing on August 17

The plant was sealed by the government owing to environmental concerns.

The plant was sealed by the government owing to environmental concerns.

The Supreme Court on Thursday listed the hearing of an appeal filed by Vedanta Ltd. against the Madras High Court’s refusal to re-open the Sterlite Copper smelting plant at Thoothukudi on August 17.

Justice Rohinton F. Nariman, the lead judge on the Bench, retires on August 12.

The date for the next hearing was fixed in an oral mentioning made before the Bench.

The court had earlier refused a plea by Vedanta to stay the High Court verdict of last year.

The plant was closed in May 2018 following an order by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board.

Protests against the plant saw 13 people die in police firing.

Vedanta had argued that the High Court decision to keep the plant closed was a “retrograde step”.

Instead of being self-sufficient in copper, a situation had been created due to which India now imported $2 billion worth copper from China.

On December 2 last year, the Supreme Court declined a proposal by Vedanta to operate the plant for 30 days under the supervision of an expert committee appointed by the court. The company had mooted the idea so that the court could ascertain whether the plant was complying with pollution norms. Vedanta had said its plant met 36% need for copper in the country and it was not in public interest to keep it closed.

Tamil Nadu government, represented by Additional Advocate General Balaji Srinivasan and advocate Yogesh Kanna, had argued that the proposal was only a “ruse to open” a plant which had been polluting the area for over 20 years. Slag was dumped at 11 places in Thoothukudi.

Senior advocate for Vedanta A.M. Singhvi had said the plant, established in 1995, was upgraded periodically with the best available technologies. Its overall asset value was ₹3,630 crore.

The factory employed 4,000 people directly and another 20,000 indirectly. The closure of the plant had affected the lives of two lakh dependents.

Its contribution to central exchequer has been ₹2,559 crore. Besides, the plant had contributed to 7% of the traffic to Thoothukudi port. The unit’s closure had resulted in India becoming a net importer of refined copper after 18 years, Mr. Singhvi had submitted.

Senior advocate for the local residents Colin Gonsalves had termed the plant as a “persistent polluter and a chronic defaulter”.

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Printable version | May 21, 2022 1:11:51 am | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/tamil-nadu-assembly/sterlite-caste-listed-for-august-17/article34103722.ece