The Vedanta Group whose Sterlite Copper smelting plant has been shut down since May 28, 2018, on Thursday told the Supreme Court that they were being harassed and their image being besmirched by the Tamil Nadu government.
Telling the bench of Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman and Justice Navin Sinha that the State government has given it a bad name, Vedanta said that the pollution report that was shown to the court was six months after the plant was put under lock.
Describing the action against the plant as "political", senior counsel CA Sundaram appearing for Vedanta, said that the State government overlooked the plea for daily maintenance to plug the sulphuric acid leaks.
Earlier, Vedanta had said that unless electricity to the plant was restored, it would not be able to comply with the conditions imposed by the National Green Tribunal in its December 15, 2018 judgment.
Senior counsel Guru Krishnakumar appearing for Tamil Nadu said that the plant management resorted to quick fixes when the environmental violations were pointed out to them.
The NGT had on December 15 directed the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to pass a fresh order allowing renewal of consent for the operation of the plant within three weeks.
Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) on Wednesday had told the Supreme Court that Vedanta's Sterlite copper smelting plant in Thoothukudi can't be allowed to operate as it was involved in a series of violations resulting in an alarming level of groundwater pollution.
Senior counsel CS Vaidyanathan told a bench of Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman and Justice Navin Sinha, counting the number of violations of water and air laws resulting in acute environmental degradation.
Flagging the breach of several statutory provisions in the operations of the copper smelting plant, senior counsel CS Vaidyanathan pointed to a book recording violations of water and air laws by Vedanta throughout the world wherever its industries were located, resulting in acute environmental degradation.
Endorsing the position taken by the TNPCB, the Tamil Nadu government defended the decision to permanently close the Thoothukudi Copper Smelting Plant. Defending the May 2018 order putting the plant under lock, senior counsel K.V. Vishwanathan said that the decision was based on sound reasons.