Sterlite plant issue: SC dismisses Tamil Nadu govt plea

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New Delhi | Published: November 27, 2018 5:40:00 AM

On Sept 10, the apex court had asked the NGT to decide on the merits and maintainability of the issue raised by the Tamil Nadu govt

The state government had challenged the NGT’s order in the apex court.

The Supreme Court has dismissed a plea by Tamil Nadu government seeking review of its September 10 order by which it has asked National Green Tribunal (NGT) to decide on merits and maintainability of the issue raised by the TN on Vedanta’s petition challenging closure of its Sterlite plant at Tuticorin.

A bench of Justices R F Nariman and Indu Malhotra dismissed the review plea of the state government on November 20. However, the order was uploaded on the apex court website Monday.

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“Having carefully gone through the review petition, the order under challenge and the papers annexed therewith, we are satisfied that there is no error apparent on the face of the record, warranting reconsideration of the order impugned. The review petition is, accordingly, dismissed,” the bench said. On September 10, the apex court had asked the NGT to decide on the merits and maintainability of the issue raised by the Tamil Nadu government on Vedanta’s plea challenging the closure of its Sterlite plant at Tuticorin.

The top court had said the NGT should consider these issues after a three-member committee, constituted by the green panel to look into environmental compliance and other issues of Sterlite plant, submits its report.

On August 31, the green panel had appointed former Meghalaya High Court chief justice Tarun Agrawal as the head of a three-member committee to decide on Vedanta’s plea. The apex court had on August 17, refused to entertain Tamil Nadu government’s plea against the NGT order allowing mining major Vedanta access to the administrative unit inside its closed Sterlite copper plant at Tuticorin and asked the NGT to “finally decide” the matter. It had said that the NGT would hear the matter on merits and also on the issue of maintainability raised by the state government.

The green tribunal had on August 9 allowed Vedanta to enter its administrative unit inside its Sterlite copper plant, observing that no environmental damage would be caused by allowing access to the administrative section.

The state government had challenged the NGT’s order in the apex court.

In its August 9 order, the NGT had said that the plant would remain closed and the company would not have access to its production unit and directed the district magistrate to ensure this.

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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.

Sterlite’s factory had made headlines in March 2013 when a gas leak 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 appealed to the NGT which had overturned the government’s order. The state had moved the Supreme Court against it, which had then ordered the company to pay Rs 100 crore as compensation for polluting the environment.

After Sterlite announced its plans to expand 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.

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