Tamil Nadu

T.N. objects to Vedanta’s plea, SC to list case on August 6

A view of Supreme Court of India in New Delhi. File   | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

The Tamil Nadu government has objected to a plea by Vedanta in the Supreme Court for permission to continue producing medical oxygen at its Sterlite Copper premises at Thoothukudi for another six months to meet the demands of the COVID-19 crisis.

Appearing before a Bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, the Tamil Nadu government, represented by senior advocate Kapil Sibal and advocate Joseph Aristotle, on Friday said the State was self-sufficient in oxygen production and refused the offer from Vedanta.

 

The Thoothukudi factory was permanently closed in 2018 for reasons of environmental pollution.

However, the Supreme Court, on a stand-alone basis on April 27, allowed the factory to operate its oxygen plants till July 31 to help the State meet the high demand for medical oxygen caused by a devastating second wave.

The court said a decision would be taken post July 31, after taking into consideration the pandemic situation, on whether or not to continue with the stand-alone arrangement.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, for Vedanta, on Friday urged the court to extend the operation of its April 27 order for another six months.

He said the oxygen plants at the Vedanta factory were capable of producing 1,050 tonnes of oxygen daily. The oxygen would be supplied free of cost across Tamil Nadu to fulfil its medical requirements during the pandemic.

“Due to the timely intervention of the Supreme Court, the petitioner (Vedanta) was able to supply medical oxygen to the tune of 1,403 MT as on June 30, 2021, free of cost and is continuing it. It has thereby augmented the efforts of the State and Central governments during the lethal second wave of the pandemic. Considering the average medical oxygen consumption for treating COVID-19 patients, the medical oxygen supplied is estimated to have saved 13,720 human lives,” Vedanta said in its application.

Vedanta said the COVID situation is “dynamic”.

The need for oxygen continues even as a third wave is widely expected.

It assured the court to maintain a continuous and free of cost supply of oxygen for the next six months in order to aid in the battle against the pandemic.

“A vital part of the health infrastructure, while dealing with COVID-19, is the oxygen production and supply in the country. Thus, it is important that a sufficient supply of medical oxygen be maintained throughout the country in order to prevent any casualties on account of lack of oxygen supply,” the application said.

The court agreed to list the case for hearing on August 6.


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Printable version | Sep 29, 2021 5:22:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/tn-objects-to-vedantas-plea-sc-to-list-case-on-august-6/article35660246.ece

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