The Supreme Court has ordered the reopening of the Vedanta Group's Sterlite copper smelter in Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu. The order comes as a setback for the Tamil Nadu government, which moved to the Supreme Court last week against the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) order that allowed Vedanta Group to reopen its Sterlite copper smelter in Tuticorin, saying the tribunal has no jurisdiction in the matter.
The Apex Court on Tuesday refused to stay NGT order to re-open Sterlite Unit.
The NGT had on December 15 set aside the state government’s order to shut the smelter after police firing on May 22 killed 13 people in a crowd protesting against the unit’s expansion.
The green tribunal called the government's decision "non-sustainable and unjustifiable" and asked the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to restore electricity supply to the plant and provide Vedanta immediate access.
The TNPCB and state government on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that the NGT didn’t have the authority to allow Vedanta access to the plant.
Senior Counsel C. Aryama Sundaram, who appeared for Sterlite confirmed the order and said that Supreme Court refused to grant stay on the order passed by the NGT stating that the NGT Order prevails and need to be complied by the parties.
He also said that the Madras High Court's Order to restrain Sterlite from reopening copper plant in Thoothukudi was also stayed. It may be noted, on December 21, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court directed that status quo will continue till January 21 and ordered the State to inform by then whether it intended to file an appeal against the tribunal verdict.
The plant has been closed since March 27, initially for maintenance and later due to the state pollution control board's refusal to give its consent to operate.
The plant caters to 35-40 per cent of copper demand in India and it generates tax revenue worth Rs 2,000 crore for central and state governments.
Vedanta has said it has been losing Rs 5 crore every day due to the closure.