The controversial Sterlite copper smelting plant in Tamil Nadu, closed after protests last year over alleged pollution, will stay shut, the Supreme Court said today. The court was hearing the Vedanta group’s request for a direction to Tamil Nadu’s pollution control body to implement an order by the National Green Tribunal which allowed the copper plant to reopen, in a case that is seen as politically sensitive.
The Tamil Nadu government had approached the top court against the green court’s order.
The Supreme Court today said the green court has no jurisdiction to entertain the case. Sterlite, the company owned by the Vedanta Group, can approach the Madras High Court with its request for permission to reopen the copper plant in Thoothukudi district, the top court said.
A bench headed by Justice RF Nariman said it is allowing Tamil Nadu’s appeal against the green court order only on grounds of maintainability.
The copper plant of Sterlite was ordered to be shut by the Tamil Nadu government in May last year over alleged pollution that led to violent protests in May last year, culminating in police opening fire on demonstrators and killing 13. The Tamil Nadu government had ordered the state pollution control board to seal and “permanently” close the plant.
State authorities had snapped electric supply to the Sterlite plant last May, after protests by local residents.
Environmentalists and local activists claim that the copper smelting unit was polluting the groundwater in the area, making many come down with serious diseases.