NGT allows Sterlite to reopen plant; Tamil Nadu govt mulls next steps

Updated on Nov 28, 2018 11:35 PM IST

Sterlite vice president D Dhanavel saw NGT’s decision as a moral victory for the company and said the company’s copper unit wasn’t responsible for the pollution in and around it.

A three-member committee of the National Green Tribunal has found no grounds for the closure of Sterlite’s controversial copper plant in Thootukodi, Tamil Nadu, in a move that puts the state government, which ordered the shutdown, in a spot. The move was welcomed by the company.(HT Photo)
A three-member committee of the National Green Tribunal has found no grounds for the closure of Sterlite’s controversial copper plant in Thootukodi, Tamil Nadu, in a move that puts the state government, which ordered the shutdown, in a spot. The move was welcomed by the company.(HT Photo)
Hindustan Times | ByMC Ranjan

A three-member committee of the National Green Tribunal has found no grounds for the closure of Sterlite’s controversial copper plant in Thootukodi, Tamil Nadu, in a move that puts the state government, which ordered the shutdown, in a spot. The move was welcomed by the company.

“The government will take all necessary legal steps to ensure that the factory, closed for causing pollution, remains closed. There is no change in the government’s position,” Tamil Nadu industries minister MC Sampath told HT.

Sterlite vice president D Dhanavel saw NGT’s decision as a moral victory for the company and said the company’s copper unit wasn’t responsible for the pollution in and around it.

On-and-off protests against the plant that had been going on for decades exploded in May when, during a massive protest rally, police firing resulted in the death of 13 people. The government, under criticism for seemingly supporting the company by attacking protestors, ordered the closure of the plant.

Activists say NGT’s report isn’t a clean chit for Sterlite.

“The committee headed by Tarun Agarwal has also recommended monitoring of water and air pollution. This is indicative of the fact that Sterlite is causing pollution... Even earlier, the Supreme Court had imposed a penalty of 100 crore on Sterlite..,” said B Sundar Rajan of the NGO Poovulagin Nanbargal.

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam president MK Stalin tweeted. “This is a shame upon Tamil Nadu for which the (state) government is squarely responsible. It has not approached the issue with seriousness and passed a cabinet resolution on closing the Sterlite plant,” he said.

“It is neither surprising nor shocking,” said MDMK chief Vaiko, claiming the panel was “biased”.

Activist Henry Tiphagne of People’s Watch expressed hope that this was not the final word on Sterlite. s

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