In a setback to Vedanta, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) has refused to consider the companyâ€™s request to renew consent to resume operations of the Sterlite plant in Thoothukudi. In a communication to the company on Wednesday, the Board stated that the government of Tamil Nadu and the TNPCB have filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) allowing the reopening of Sterlite Copper smelter plant in Thoothukudi. â€śHence, your request for the issue of renewal of consent to operate, Authorization under Hazardous Wastes Rules and opening of the premises for maintenance cannot be considered,â€ť reads a part of the letter.
Vedanta, the parent company of Sterlite plant had sought from TNPCB a renewal of consent under the Water and Air Acts and Authorization of Hazardous Wastes Rules and restoration of electricity supply to the plant. It had also requested the district administration to open the seal of the plant so that the company can carry out maintenance works inside the plant. These requests were sent to TNPCB and the District Collector of Thoothukudi on December 19 and December 17 respectively after the NGTâ€™s order.
The NGT, on December 15, set aside the TNPCB's order to close Sterlite Copper stating that the grounds on which the state took the decision to shut the plant was not sustainable. The tribunal's stand was based on the report of the thre- member committee constituted under former Chief Justice of Meghalaya Tarun Agrawal to probe the closure of the copper plant.
Days after NGT ordered the reopening of Sterlite plant in Thoothukudi and directed the government of Tamil Nadu to restore electricity supply to the plant, Vedanta filed a caveat petition in the Supreme Court. The group requested that no orders shall be passed on the Tamil Nadu governmentâ€™s appeal without hearing them out.
Sterlite plant was sealed on May 28 for violating TNPCBâ€™s environmental norms. The state governmentâ€™s move came less than a week after 13 civilians were killed in police firing on May 22, the 100th day of the protest against the Thoothukudi plant.