Major setback to anti-sterlite activists: SC orders to re-open the copper plant

The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) order to re-open the Vedanta Group’s copper plant at Tuticorin. The plant was closed down by the Tamil Nadu government in early 2018, after widespread protests from some activists and orgnisations of dubious credibility.

A bench, headed by Justice R F Nariman, sought response from Vedanta on the state government’s appeal against the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT’s) order to reopen the plant.
The state had moved the top court, saying that the NGT had “erroneously” set aside various orders passed by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) last year with regard to the Sterlite plant. 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 the Vedanta Limited.

Meanwhile right after the order, DMK MLAs staged a walk-out from the Tamil Nadu Assembly. DMK MLAs had urged Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami to convene a Cabinet meeting to take a firm policy decision on the issue. DMK president MK Stalin told reporters: “We expected the Chief Minister to immediately convene a meeting of the Cabinet to take a firm policy decision on the matter.”

“Unfortunately nothing was done. In protest against this, we today walked out from the Assembly,” added the DMK president.

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