The Tamil Nadu government today moved the Supreme Court challenging the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order allowing mining major Vedanta to enter the administrative unit inside its Sterlite copper plant in Tuticorin.
On August 9, the NGT had allowed Vedanta to enter its administrative unit inside the plant, observing that no environmental damage would be caused by allowing access to this section.
The green panel had said that the plant would remain closed and the company would not have access to its production unit and asked the district magistrate to ensure it.
The tribunal had directed Tamil Nadu State Pollution Control Board to submit an analysis of the baseline pollution data of the State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu Ltd in Tuticorin (Thoothukudi) to ascertain the level of pollution. It had posted the matter for further hearing on August 20.
Tamil Nadu government had on May 28 ordered the state pollution control board to seal and "permanently" close the mining group's copper plant following violent protests over pollution concerns.
After Sterlite announced its plans to expand the Tuticorin plant, villagers around it started fresh protests that continued for over 100 days, culminating in the May 22 police firing on protestors that claimed 13 lives and left scores injured. Following these protests and police firing, the plant was closed on March 27.
On July 30, the NGT had refused to grant interim relief to Vedanta which has challenged Tamil Nadu government's order to permanently shut down the copper plant. The company has termed the government action as "political".
On July 5, the tribunal had issued notices to the state and pollution control board seeking their responses after Tamil Nadu had raised preliminary objections with regard to maintainability of Vedanta's plea.
Earlier in April, the Tamil Nadu pollution control board had rejected Sterlite's plea to renew the Consent To Operate certification, saying the company had not complied with the stipulated conditions. Following this, the government had issued a permanent closure notice to the plant.
The Sterlite plant had made headlines in March 2013 when a gas leak had led to the death of one person and injuries to several others, after which then chief minister J Jayalalithaa had ordered its closure.
The company had then appealed to the NGT which had overturned the government order. The state had then moved the top court against it and the case is still pending.
The Supreme Court had then ordered the company to pay Rs 100 crore as compensation for polluting environment.
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