Despite TN government’s strong objections to Vedanta’s requests, the NGT granted permission without specifying a deadline.

Sterlite can undertake administrative work inside Thoothukudi plant says NGTPTI
news Sterlite Thursday, August 09, 2018 - 19:02

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has allowed Sterlite to carry out administrative works in its Thoothukudi plant.

The petition filed by Vedanta in the NGT against the Tamil Nadu government’s order to shut down its copper smelter plant in Thoothukudi came up for hearing on Thursday. Vedanta, which is the parent company of Sterlite copper smelter plant in Thoothukudi was shut down by the TN government on May 28, after the TN Pollution Control Board stated that the plant had violated environmental norms and was causing large-scale pollution in the region.

In its arguments, Vedanta had originally requested permission to operate the plant for 30 days. It also requested that a special committee be formed by the NGT to study their operations during those days and then submit a report to the NGT which can be used to decide if Sterlite is the reason behind the alleged pollution in the region.

Denying the allegations that its Thoothukudi plant is the reason for pollution in the town, Sterlite submitted that that there are many factories in same area and hence government cannot put the blame on Sterlite alone. It further stated that the factory has a zero waste effluent discharge system in place and hence the accusations against Sterlite are completely out of malafide intentions on the part of TN government.

Sterlite then stated that since the company has to disburse salaries to their employees, file the tax returns and get documentation on track and hence requested the tribunal to allow them to enter the administrative area of the plant to carry out these tasks.

The Tamil Nadu government strongly objected to this request from Sterlite on the grounds that if the plant is opened it will lead to tampering of evidence.

Raising question on how allowing Sterlite to carry on their administrative work will lead to pollution, the judge stated that since the government’s concern is only pollution, administrative works done within the plant are allowed. The NGT also did not specify the time limit for Sterlite to complete the administrative works inside the premises of the plant.

The tribunal categorically stated that Sterlite shall not undertake production activities in this time period where they are allowed to carry on administrative works and posted the case for its next hearing on August 20.

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