The Vedanta group on Tuesday moved the Supreme Court seeking direction to the Tamil Nadu government to take steps for the re-opening of the group's Sterlite copper smelting plant in Thoothukudi in the state in pursuance to the December 15 National Green Tribunal's order.
A bench headed by Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman agreed to hear the matter on January 24 after lawyer Rohini Musa mentioned Vedanta's application for an early hearing.
Setting aside the Tamil Nadu governments order to permanently close the Vedanta's copper smelting plant at Thoothukudi, the NGT had directed the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to pass a fresh order allowing renewal of consent for the plant within three weeks.
The Tamil Nadu government had on January 2 moved the top court challenging the December 15 green tribunal order. It has contended that the operation of the plant has caused irreversible water pollution.
The top court bench of Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman and Justice Navin Sinha had on January 8 had put on hold the status quo order passed by the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court thus paving the way for now, for the re-opening of the plant.
The plant was put under lock on May 28, 2018, when the state government had ordered the TNPCB to seal and "permanently" close the plant in the wake of violent protests over pollution concerns.
The protests had turned violent, resulting in the death of 13 people in police firing on May 22-23 in Tuticorin.
While staying the December 21, 2018 status quo order, the Supreme Court had said, "The directions that have been passed by the National Green Tribunal, by its judgement (on December 15), will continue to subsist."
However, the court had also said that the operation of the directions of the green tribunal would be subject to the outcome of an appeal by the Vedanta group against the High Court order.
The High Court had on December 21 ordered status quo as existed prior to the NGT's December 15 order by which the green tribunal had set aside the order of the state government shutting down the copper smelting plant for causing water pollution.
The High Court had restrained Vedanta group from taking any step for the reopening of the plant.
The High Court order on maintaining status quo had come on a petition by Tuticorin resident Fathima opposing the re-opening of the copper smelting plant.