Tamil Nadu pollution control board rejects Vedanta’s plea for consent to operate

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Published: January 3, 2019 2:43:13 AM

Such action plan and progress achieved in implementation of said plan may also be uploaded on the said website for the purpose of dissemination,” NGT said in the order.

Vedanta had offered to spend Rs 100 crore for the welfare of the people, beyond the CSR activities carried out by the firm.

The ongoing tussle between Tamil Nadu government and Vedanta’s Sterlite Copper has taken an ugly turn on Wednesday as the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TN PCB) informed Vedanta that it cannot consider the latter’s request for issue of renewal of consent to operate, authorisation under Hazardous Wastes Rules and opening of the premises for maintenance.

In its reply to Vedanta’s request for consent, which was made a few days ago, TN PCB said: “We were in receipt of your letter seeking the issue of renewal of consent under Water and Air Acts and Authorisation under Hazardous Wastes Rules as well as to open the seal of the premises, restore electricity supply and provide immediate access to the plant for carrying out urgent care and maintenance, you are informed that the Tamil Nadu government and Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board have filed an appeal before the Supreme Court on Wednesday (January 2, 2O19) vide diary no 05-2019 challenging the orders of the National Green Tribunal, Principal Bench dated December 15, 2018. Hence, your request cannot be considered.”

On December 15, the NGT had set aside the Tamil Nadu government order that directed permanent closure of the group’s Sterlite Copper plant at Tuticorin. The NGT, in its final order, while also quashing the directive of TNPCB for shutting down of the plant, asked the Board to pass a fresh order of renewal of consent and authorisation to handle hazardous substances, subject to appropriate conditions for protection of environment, in accordance with law within three weeks from the date of order.

Reacting to the NGT order, chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami had on that day said the state government will challenge the NGT final order before the Supreme Court.

The NGT ordered Vedanta to spend Rs 100 crore in three years for the welfare of the inhabitants in the area. The company will also be entitled to restoration of electricity for its operations. Vedanta had offered to spend Rs 100 crore for the welfare of the people, beyond the CSR activities carried out by the firm.

NGT said that the amount should be spent on projects like water supply, hospital and health services and skill development in the area. “The action plan prepared for utilisation of the amount must be approved from MoEF&CC which may also oversee the compliance thereof. Such action plan and progress achieved in implementation of said plan may also be uploaded on the said website for the purpose of dissemination,” NGT said in the order.

The NGT also said the grounds in the impugned orders can hardly be sustainable. The ground water analysis reports were available with the TNPCB. If anything was still required to be done in that regard by the appellant company, this could not be a ground for rejecting consent for renewal or for closing the unit without an opportunity of hearing.

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