There were violent protests in May last year against the closure of the Sterlite unit.(REUTERS)
There were violent protests in May last year against the closure of the Sterlite unit.(REUTERS)

Supreme Court sets aside Green Tribunal order, says Sterlite plant in Tamil Nadu’s Tuticorin can’t be reopened

The court directed Vedanta, the company that owns the plant, to approach the Madras High Court against the Tamil Nadu government’s order to close it down.
By HT Correspondent
UPDATED ON FEB 18, 2019 12:42 PM IST

The Supreme Court on Monday said the Sterlite plant in Tamil Nadu’s Tuticorin will remain shut . The court set aside the National Green Tribunal’s order and said it has no jurisdiction to order reopening of the plant.

The court directed Vedanta, the company that owns the plant, to approach the Madras High Court against the Tamil Nadu government’s order to close it down. A bench headed by Justice R F Nariman said it is allowing Tamil Nadu’s appeal against the NGT order only on grounds of maintainability.

The top court was hearing a plea by Vedanta group seeking a direction to Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board to implement the NGT order which had set aside the government’s decision to close the plant.

There were violent protests in May last year against the closure of the Sterlite unit. Thirteen protesters were killed when the police opened fire on a demonstration against the copper smelter. Six days later, the Tamil Nadu government ordered the state pollution control board to seal and “permanently” close the plant.

Also read: Anti-Sterlite protesters allege NGT order was leaked; Vedanta’s PR firm denies

On December 15 last year, the NGT had set aside the state government’s order for closure of the Sterlite copper plant, saying it was “non-sustainable” and “unjustified”.

The Tamil Nadu government had moved against the NGT order and said it had “erroneously” set aside various orders passed by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB). It had said the tribunal had consequentially directed the TNPCB to pass fresh orders of renewal of consent and issue authorisation to handle hazardous substances to Vedanta Limited.

On January 8, the Supreme Court had stayed the order of the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court which had ruled for status quo with respect to re-opening the plant. The top court also sought response from Vedanta on the state government’s appeal against the NGT order to reopen the plant.

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