Tamil Nadu Law Minister C.Ve. Shanmugam on Monday welcomed the Supreme Court order allowing Vedanta’s copper smelter plant in Thoothukudi to remain closed according to the state government’s order.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) in December 2018 had ordered opening of the plant known as Sterlite Copper.
Speaking to reporters here Shanmugam said: “The Tamil Nadu government had argued before the Supreme Court that the NGT does not have jurisdiction in deciding on the government’s closure order.
“It is a victory for the Tamil Nadu government. The state government will face the case if the company approaches the High Court for relief.”
The Tamil Nadu government had ordered closure of Sterlite Copper following protests in Thoothukudi in which 13 people died and several others got injured in police firing after the protest turned violent in May 2018.
The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) had rejected the company’s application to renew its “consent to operate”.
On an appeal by Vedanta, the NGT set aside the Tamil Nadu government’s order to close the plant and ordered TNPCB to issue the renewal of consent to the company within three weeks.
Ever since the copper smelter plant was permitted to be set up in Tuticorin several years ago, people have been protesting against it, calling it a polluting industry.
The apex court’s decision came earlier in the day on TNPCB’s plea against the December 15, 2018, NGT order directing it to give its consent.
The grant of consent by the state pollution control board was subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions by Vedanta.
The TNPCB had in the course of arguments asserted that the copper smelting plant was the cause of near irreversible ground water pollution and thus could not be allowed to resume operation.
On the other hand, Vedanta had described as “political” the decision to put the plant under the lock.
Vedanta had contended that the high-level ground water pollution was not limited just to Thoothukudi alone, and that similar situation existed in other parts of the state.