Sterlite copper plant at Tuticorin may soon re-open with NGT dropping permanent closure order

Country’s environment Court, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has dropped Tamil Nadu Government’s order to permanently close down Vedanta group owned Sterlite copper plant in Tuticorin. This has put the company at a position to re-open their operations at the plant once again.

The verdict comes months after the smelter was closed down by Tamil Nadu government, in face of intense protests from some orgnizations.

The NGT order further added that if Tuticorin copper plant re-opens after following certain environment friendly guidelines, then the state government should restore the electricity connection to the smelter, which was snapped earlier in the year. The Court directed Tamil Nadu state pollution regulator to come up with a fresh order of renewal of consent for Vedanta owned plant.

The company has also agreed to voluntarily spend a sum of Rs 100 Crore for social welfare activities. During the NGT hearing, the smelter’s counsel said the amount may be spent on projects like water supply, hospital, health services and skill development.

“We allow this appeal, set aside the impugned orders and direct the TNPCB (Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board) to pass a fresh order of renewal of consent and authorisation to handle hazardous substances … within three weeks from today,” the National Green Tribunal said in the order. A panel of experts set up by the NGT last month said the authorities in Tamil Nadu had failed to comply with procedures before shutting down the smelter.

Reacting to the latest verdict, Tamil Nadu’s environment minister KC Karuppannan said the state would file an appeal against the verdict in the Supreme Court. “Our stand is clear: we do not want this smelter to reopen,” Mr Karuppannan told reporters after the court order.
The AIADMK Government in Tamil Nadu has been against the copper plant from the get go.

The order is being considered a major setback for local protesters and Tamil Nadu government.