'Vague, unscientific, unwarranted': TN govt rejects Centre’s report on Sterlite
'Vague, unscientific, unwarranted': TN govt rejects Centre’s report on Sterlite

'Vague, unscientific, unwarranted': TN govt rejects Centre’s report on Sterlite

The Union Ministry of Water Resources conducted a groundwater analysis, without the state’s knowledge, in Thoothukudi where Sterlite is located.

The Tamil Nadu government rejected a suo motu groundwater analysis conducted by the Union Ministry of Water Resources in Thoothukudi district, where the Sterlite copper smelter plant is located. The study, conducted without the knowledge of the state government, has been slammed by Tamil Nadu as “vague and unscientific”.

The Ministry of Water Resources had instructed to the Central Ground Water Board to conduct a study on September 5, 2018.

The concluding paragraph of the Centre’s study states, “It is to mention that the investigation team couldn’t enter into the premises of M/s. Sterlite Copper Industry for collection of representative samples from inside and outside of industry; because district authorities sealed the Sterlite Copper Plant following the Governments order to close down the plant permanently. Therefore, it can’t be stated that M/s. Sterlite Industry is only cause of pollution indicated above (sic).”

In a strongly-worded letter to the Union Ministry, Chief Secretary Girija Vaidyanathan hit back, saying the study was both inappropriate and unwarranted.

“As you know, TNPCB, after detailed investigation and analysis of all the relevant factors, has taken a decision to refuse renewal of consent for the Sterlite Copper Smelting Plant in Tuticorin. On the basis of scientific studies, TNPCB has concluded that the level of pollution caused by the Sterlite Copper Smelting Plant has gravely affected the health and safety of the residents in the locality, warranting closure of the industry,” Chief Secretary’s letter states.

Slamming the conclusion of the report, which is favourable to Sterlite, the Tamil Nadu government questioned the methodology of the study.

“This conclusion, which appears to support the Sterlite Industry, is totally unwarranted, besides, being absolutely vague, and is not supported by any empirical data whatsoever. It does not appear to be made on any scientific basis and it is not known how the two scientists who have submitted the report have made such a vague and an unsubstantiated statement in the report,” the letter states.

Further, the letter alleges that the report was commissioned to “prejudice the Government of Tamil Nadu and the TNPCB” in cases pending before the Courts. It also stated that such a report was likely to upset the normalcy that has been restored in Thoothukudi.

Rejecting the report, the state government has also called upon the Secretary of the Ministry of Water Resources to immediately withdraw the entire report since the TNPCB had already conducted a detailed analysis and reached a decision.

The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board ordered the closure of the plant on May 24, two days after police shot dead 13 civilians during the anti-Sterlite agitations in the district. The state has also since argued against its re-opening in various courts, stating that Sterlite causes pollution in the area.

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