The Supreme Court today refused to allow reopening of Vedanta’s Sterlite plant in Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu but granted it liberty to approach the Madras High Court.
Passing the order, a bench headed by Justice R F Nariman said it is allowing Tamil Nadu’s appeal against the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order only on grounds of maintainability.
The court was hearing a plea by Vedanta group seeking a direction to Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to implement the NGT order which had set aside the government’s decision to close the plant.
The state had moved the top court, saying the NGT had “erroneously” set aside various orders passed by the TNPCB last year with regard to the Sterlite plant.
In May, 2018 at least 13 people were killed in police firing on hundreds who marched to the Tuticorin collectorate demanding closure of the Sterlite Copper plant over pollution fears, following which the state government ordered TNPCB to seal the unit and close the plant permanently, citing a provision of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.
Environmentalists and local activists claim that the copper smelting unit was polluting the groundwater in the area, making many come down with serious diseases.
The TNPCB argued in Supreme Court that the pollution levels of the groundwater in and around Vedanta group’s Sterlite copper smelting plant in the state was very high and that there was no remedy to restore it to permissible levels.