The Supreme Court refused on Friday to entertain a petition filed by Vedanta group firm Sterlite Copper seeking access to its closed smelter plant in Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu to carry out maintenance activities.
The firm had also challenged in the apex court the Madras High Court’s order which had declined to give an early hearing to their interim application as well as the main petitions, which relate to the Tamil Nadu State Pollution Control Board (TNPCB’s) order to shut down the plant.
“We are not here to control the high court,” a bench headed by Justice R F Nariman said after which the firm withdrew its plea.
The plant was ordered to be shut after 13 people, protesting against the alleged pollution caused due to the plant, died in police firing in May last year.
Vendanta has denied the allegations that its plant caused any pollution.
The firm, in its plea in the top court, had said that its “intention was solely to preserve its assets” and for such purpose alone, commence repair and maintenance activities.
It had added that lack of maintenance of assets there has resulted in a loss of over Rs 100 crore to it.
The apex court earlier this year had directed the company to move the Madras High Court against the TNPCB order shutting the plant down.
The firm said the value of the Tuticorin plant was around Rs 3,000 crore and if the high court did not eventually allow it to restart operations, it would need to transport and assemble equipment to another location.
On March 27, the high court had adjourned the matter till April 23.
Sterlite, in its petition filed before the high court, has challenged the TNPCB’s May 23, 2018 orders refusing renewal of consent to the plant as well as permanent closure, terming them as wholly illegal, unconstitutional and ultra vires.
The apex court had earlier set aside the order of the National Green Tribunal allowing opening of the copper unit but gave the liberty to the company to approach the high court against the closure order.