Sterlite Copper plant case: Vedanta moves HC afresh, seeks interim relief

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Published: March 2, 2019 3:17:44 AM

The company would be subjected to irreparable harm and hardship which is not capable of being compensated in monetary terms if the interim relief, allowing access to plant, is not granted, Vedanta further said in its petition.

National Green Tribunal (NGT), vedanta , P Ramnath, CEO, Sterlite Copper, Madras HC When contacted, P Ramnath, CEO, Sterlite Copper, confirmed the developments and said the case had been posted for further hearing on March 27. “We put up our arguments on the merit basis as per SC direction.

The Vedanta group, in its fresh writ petition filed before the Madras high court (as per Supreme Court recent order), has sought an interim relief for accessing the Sterlite Copper plant to ensure care and maintenance activities were undertaken. After the arguments on the fresh writ were filed by Vedanta on Friday, the high court posted the next hearing of the case on March 27.
The mining company has moved the Madras HC afresh, following the recent Supreme Court (SC)’s order. The SC, in February, ruled the National Green Tribunal (NGT) did not have the jurisdiction to grant relief to Vedanta (directing the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board to allow reopening of the copper smelter plant) and also directed the company to approach the Madras HC with a fresh writ on merit basis.

When contacted, P Ramnath, CEO, Sterlite Copper, confirmed the developments and said the case had been posted for further hearing on March 27. “We put up our arguments on the merit basis as per SC direction. We argued with the same points (as we did in SC) in the Madras HC on Friday and sought interim relief to us to access to the plant to ensure that all care and maintenance activities are undertaken to prevent further damage and deterioration of the company’s equipment and facilities.”

In its fresh affidavit, Vedanta has said the smelter unit is continuing to suffer a daily loss of Rs 5 crore. Further, the anciliaries units, which are dependent on the copper smelter plant, have also been suffering daily losses. The plant was forced shut on May 28, 2018.

Vedanta has said lack of proper care and maintenance, and preservation would lead to corrosion and damage beyond repair, which woudl eventually lead to the total structure collapse and failure of certain sections of the plant and assets.

The company has further argued irrespective of the outcome in the present appeal, it should be permitted to take care of the plant and assets, and maintain these to be able to use these in the likelihood of an operation in future.

Vedanta further said it had 36% share of copper production in total domestic market and following the plant’s closure, imports would be around $2 billion per annum.

The company has been exporting copper worth `9,000 crore per annum. After its closure, prices of sulphuric acid in India rose six times to `16,000 per tonne, against `2,500 earlier when the plant was running.

The plant also generated a strong revenue in terms of excise, custom duties, to both the central and state governments of about `2,000 crore annually and also contributed 30% to the total cargo volume and 12% to the revenue of the Tuticorin port.
The company would be subjected to irreparable harm and hardship which is not capable of being compensated in monetary terms if the interim relief, allowing access to plant, is not granted, Vedanta further said in its petition.

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