The Tamil Nadu government is set to move the Supreme Court over the National Green Tribunal's order to reopen Vedanta‚Äôs copper smelter plant in Thoothukudi district. The NGT's final order directed the government to restore electricity in the Sterlite Copper plant and give it the consent to operate.
The NGT stated that the grounds on which the state took the decision to shut the plant, owned by Vedanta Ltd., was not sustainable and did not justify the impugned orders. The tribunal's stand is in line with that of the three-member committee constituted to probe the closure of the copper plant. It further directed Sterlite to spend Rs 100 crores within a period of three years for the welfare of the inhabitants in Thoothukudi district. In its final order, the NGT criticised the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board's action and accused the latter of adopting a hyper-technical approach unmindful of the law.
But the state government is not backing down. In a tweet, following the order, the AIADMK's official handle stated that, 'Honourable CM Thiru Edappadi K Palaniswami is firm on the closure of Sterlite; TN Govt will challenge the NGT final order before the Supreme Court.'
Thoothukudi Collector Sandeep Nanthuri further told the media that the fight was not over. "Water and power supply will not be immediately given to the Sterlite plant. We will continue to legally pursue this matter," he said.
The final order had stated that, "The statutory requirements of Consent to Establish and Consent to Operate are for the purpose of ensuring control of pollution. In the present case, the TNPCB has adopted hyper technical approach unmindful of object of law. So long as establishment is complying with the Pollution Control norms and is willing to take further precautionary steps, the Pollution Control Boards cannot arbitrarily close such establishments on hyper technicalities, as has been done in the present case. We expect TNPCB to have more a focused and professional approach in performing its regulatory functions."
On May 28, TNPCB ordered the closure and disconnection of electricity supply under provisions of Section 33A of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, and Section 31A of Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1971. Sterlite's aggrieved parent company Vedanta Private Limited then approached the NGT against the closure orders, following which an expert committee headed by former Chief Justice of Meghalaya High Court Tarun Agarwal was formed to probe the matter.