Tamil Nadu

HC calls for clarity in Sterlite closure order

Environmental issues have grown manifold over the years, says Madurai Bench

Hearing public interest litigation petitions filed by various persons, including MDMK general secretary Vaiko, against Sterlite Copper and the police firing in Thoothukudi during the anti-Sterlite protests last month, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Wednesday suggested that there should be a clear order for the closure of the plant, leaving no room for ambiguity.

A Division Bench of justices C.T. Selvam and A.M. Basheer Ahamed observed that the issue went beyond just water and air pollution, and the region had been left grappling with severe adverse consequences. The court suggested that the State government recognise its duties under the Directive Principles of State Policy and take a policy decision on the closure of the plant.

“Let it be more than just a mere referral under Article 48 (A) (Protection and improvement of environment and safeguarding forests and wildlife) of the Constitution or the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981. There should be a finality without any room for doubt,” the court said.

The judges pointed out that the Supreme Court had imposed a fine of ₹100 crore on Sterlite Copper under the ‘polluter pays’ principle for the air and water pollution in the region. Since then, the environmental issue had grown manifold, and a modern-day view was necessary in this regard.

Additional Advocate General K. Chellapandian told the court that the State had issued a Government Order for the “permanent closure” of the plant, following which the unit was sealed. Also, the compensation for victims’ families was increased from ₹10 lakh to ₹20 lakh.

The court took cognisance of the fact that similar petitions had been filed before the principal seat.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 5:50:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/hc-calls-for-clarity-in-sterlite-closure-order/article24157527.ece

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