February 26, 2019

NGT has no jurisdiction to order reopening of the Sterlite plant: SC


Supreme Court vide its order dt. February 18, 2019, set aside the order of the National Green Tribunal which had ordered for the reopening of the Sterlite copper plant owned by Vedanta. Further, the Supreme Court gave the parties the liberty to approach the Madras High Court. Supreme Court also directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to conduct fair and impartial investigation on the police firing that took 13 lives, including the life of a minor during the intensified protests which took place last year at Tuticorin.

Going to the background, Sterlite plant had flouted various environmental norms over the years, and it was alleged that the pollutants from the Sterlite copper plant in Thoothukudi had entered the groundwater of the nearby Upparriver, for which Tamil Nadu State Pollution Control Board (PCB) declined to renew the Consent to Operate certificate. Soon after the protests that killed 13 locals and injured several others who were among a group of 20,000 protestors, demanding closure of the plant on grounds of water pollution the Tamil Nadu government had ordered Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board to permanently close the plant. The National Green Tribunal while considering more importantly that the closure of the Sterlite plant, there was a steep fall of over 42% in domestic refined copper production. Described the state’s order as “unsustainable” and directed the Tamil Nadu PCB to issue fresh order of renewal of consent for the smelter within 3 weeks. This is the order that was revoked by the Supreme Court.

Yesterday, Vedanta stated that it will be filing a writ petition before the Madras High Court against all orders passed by TNPCB as well as the Government of Tamil Nadu, following the decision of the Supreme Court revoking the NGT order.

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