The Tribunal took up the issue on Thursday even as the Tamil Nadu government questioned the maintainability of the petition by Vedanta.

Sterlite plant to stay shut NGT refuses to grant interim stay on TN govt order
news Sterlite Thursday, July 05, 2018 - 12:22

A day after Vedanta moved the National Green Tribunal (NGT) against the closure of its Sterlite copper smelter in Thoothukudi district, the green body has refused to grant interim stay on its closure.

The Tribunal took up the issue on Thursday even as Senior Advocates CS Vaidyanathan and Rakesh Dwivedi, on behalf of the Tamil Nadu government, questioned the maintainability of the petition by Vedanta.

The Tribunal also issued a notice to the Tamil Nadu government, seeking its response. The state government and Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) are expected to file their response by July 18.

On Wednesday, Sterlite had appealed under section 16 of the NGT Act 2010, which states, “Any person aggrieved by an order or decision made, on or after the commencement of the National Green Tribunal Act, may, within a period of thirty days from the date on which the order or decision or direction or determination is communicated to him, prefer an appeal to the Tribunal.”

In its prayer to the NGT, the plant also sought to "restrain the Government of Tamil Nadu by an order of permanent injunction from in any manner preventing or interfering with the functioning and operations of the Appellant's unit or in any manner purporting the prohibiting of the functioning and operations of the Appelant's unit."

The NGT adjourned the matter to July 18.

Earlier this year, on May 22, violence had broken out on the 100th day of the anti-Sterlite agitations after police opened fire on residents who were marching towards the District Collector’s office. Thirteen civilians were shot dead by the police during the confrontation, and over 200 others were maimed for life.

Following this, on May 28, the Tamil Nadu Government directed the TNPCB to shut down the Sterlite Copper Smelter plant in Thoothukudi, “Under sections, 18(1)(b) of the Water Act, 1974 in the larger public interest, the Government endorse the closure direction of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board and also direct the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board to seal the unit and close the plant permanently.”

On June 18, the discovery of an acid leak at the plant had sparked controversy. Sterlite had alleged that the government's power shut down of the plant on May 23 had not allowed them to undertake basic maintenance work. It had alleged that the leak was grave, could have catastrophic consequences and that Sterlite required minimal power supply to hasten the cleaning process.

Days after the Thoothukudi district administration confirmed that all traces of the sulphuric acid leak were removed from the Sterlite Copper unit in the district, Vedanta Limited argued at the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court that there is no guarantee of a risk-free environment for those residing close to the smelter.

Also read: ‘Other hazardous materials pose risk’: Sterlite demands access to Thoothukudi plant

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