The ambient air quality around the Sterlite Copper plant in Thoothukudi has improved since its closure, the State on October 28 informed the National Green Tribunal panel looking into Vedanta’s plea challenging the plant’s closure.
Senior counsel C.S. Vaidyanathan, appearing on behalf of the State, quoted TNPCB data and said levels of SO2 and other chemicals in the ambient air near the plant had gone down. On September 22, 2017, the SO2 level was recorded at 20 micrograms per cubic metre around the plant. This had come down to less than 5 micrograms on October 12 and 13, 2018.
This level had come down to less than five micrograms, as recorded at the All India Radio (relay station) at Therku Veerapandiyapuram on October 12 and 13, this year. The nitrogen dioxide level had also come down from 15 micrograms to less than seven. in the same period. “The industry’s contention was that there was no appreciable increase in the ambient air quality even after the Sterlite plant was closed. However, based on the above comparison, it clearly shows that the level of SO has very much reduced in the ambience,” said an inference drawn from the data.
During the same period, the PM10 (particulate matter) levels had shown an increase from 56 micrograms per cubic metre to 64.9. “The increase in PM10 (particulate matter) could be due to the dust [that] emanated from the dump of gypsum, slag and [from] the secured landfill facility [at the Sterlite plant],” it added.
Spokespersons of Sterlite Copper were not available for comment.