Vedanta's plea over Tuticorin plant : NGT notice to TN govt, state pollution board

Vedantas plea over Tuticorin plant : NGT notice to TN govt, state pollution board
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Highlights

The National Green Tribunal on Thursday sought the response of the Tamil Nadu government and the state pollution control board on mining major Vedantas plea challenging the states order to permanently shut down its Sterlite copper plant in Tuticorin

New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal on Thursday sought the response of the Tamil Nadu government and the state pollution control board on mining major Vedanta's plea challenging the state's order to permanently shut down its Sterlite copper plant in Tuticorin.

At least 13 people were killed and several others injured on May 22 when the police had opened fire on a huge crowd of people protesting against environment pollution being allegedly caused by the factory.

On Thursday, a bench headed by Acting NGT Chairperson Justice Jawad Rahim issued notices to the state government and the pollution board seeking their responses before July 18 after Tamil Nadu raised preliminary objection to the maintainability of the plea.

The green panel also permitted the state government to file a statement questioning the maintainability of Vedanta's plea. Senior advocates C S Vaidyanathan and Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for Tamil Nadu government, questioned the maintainability of the petition and said the company has already approached the Madras High Court and the NGT should not entertain the matter.

Senior advocate C A Sundaram, representing Vedanta, said the issue in the High Court was different and it was filed to seek permission to enter the premises in wake of a leak in the sulphuric acid tank. He sought a direction to complete maintenance activities in the premises and permission for the representatives to access the administrative building.

The tribunal, however, refused to pass any order and said it would look into those issues on the next date of hearing. The 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.

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 issued the permanent closure notice.

Vedanta's plea in the NGT seeks permission to operate the unit and a direction to declare as unlawful and illegal the exercise of powers by the Tamil Nadu government in passing the closure order under section 18(1)(b) of the Water Act.

"Direct the state pollution control board to consider the application for renewal of consent afresh and pass appropriate orders granting the same within a period of one month, for a period of five years, from the date of such consent” the plea said.

Seeking interim relief to begin operations, the plea said, "Permit the appellant to operate the unit and plant pending the consideration of the instant appeal and direct the TN pollution control board to restore and provide minimum power supply, water and manpower access for safeguarding the emergency systems of the plant as it houses various chemical and fuels.

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