Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami said on Thursday that the State government was taking all steps legally to permanently close down Sterlite Copper, a Vedanta Group company, in Thoothukudi.
Thirteen persons were killed in police firing during the protests against the plant.
Earlier in the day, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) ordered the closure of the Sterlite Copper unit with immediate effect and disconnected electricity supply to the plant at 5.15 a.m.
“This government is Amma’s [Jayalalithaa’s] government that respects the sentiments of the people. As far as the Sterlite issue is concerned, this Amma’s government is taking steps legally to close down the unit,” Mr. Palaniswami told journalists at the Secretariat.
His statement came soon after Opposition leader M.K. Stalin staged a dharna outside the Chief Minister’s chamber. Mr. Stalin, who was physically removed from the Secretariat premises and detained till the evening, alleged that the Sterlite Group had bribed the government.
In its order, the TNPCB said that during inspections by its officials on May 18 and 19, it was found that “the unit was carrying out activities to resume its production operations” though permission was not granted.
Following this, the Joint Chief Environmental Engineer, Tirunelveli, recommended disconnection of electricity supply to the plant under Section 33A of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, and Section 31A of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution)Act, 1981.
Awaiting nod: Vedanta
However, Vedanta Chairman Anil Agarwal on Thursday said the company would like to continue the business at the plant with the “wish” of the community. At present, the company is waiting for clearance from the court and the government to restart the plant, which was closed for annual maintenance, he said in a video statement on Twitter.
The Board took cognisance of an application made by Vedanta seeking renewal of the Consent To Operate (CTO) and the rejection of the application in April by the Board for non compliance of certain conditions under the previous CTO.
Responding to the action, Vedanta, in a statement, said it has not operated the copper smelter plant since March 27. “We continue to work with the regulatory authorities, at all time ensuring compliance with the necessary regulations,” the firm said.
Meanwhile, efforts were being taken to restore normalcy in the district though the opposition has called for a State-wide bandh on Friday. Internet access remained suspended for a second day in three southern districts causing hardship to local people, particularly students attempting to submit online applications for various examinations and admission forms.