The TN government said that multiple agencies had inspected Sterlite and concluded the plant was unsafe, and argued another panel need not inspect it again.

Wont stay NGT order on expert committee inspecting Sterlite plant SC tells TN
news Sterlite Monday, September 10, 2018 - 18:12

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to stay the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) order allowing an expert committee to inspect the Sterlite copper smelter plant in Thoothukudi. The appeal was filed by the government of Tamil Nadu against the NGT’s order. The apex court asked TN government the basis upon which the stay has been requested by the state.

The NGT had appointed an expert committee led by retired Chief Justice of Meghalaya High Court Tarun Agarwal to inspect Sterlite’s premises in Thoothukudi, and submit a report regarding its operations and the resultant pollution to the tribunal within six weeks.

The TN government requested that the NGT not hear the petition filed by Vedanta, and that the committee not be allowed to inspect the plant.

The TN government submitted that since various teams from the TN Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) and other agencies have inspected the premises and have concluded that there was sufficient evidence that the plant causes pollution in the nearby areas, there is no need for another committee to investigate it. However, both requests were denied by the apex court.

The Supreme Court also directed the NGT to decide on the maintainability of Vedanta’s petition with the tribunal and then hear the case based on merits.

The NGT had earlier permitted Sterlite to carry out administrative works from within the premises of the plant.

The Vedanta-owned Sterlite plant in Thoothukudi was shut down by the Tamil Nadu government after the protest by the citizens against the plant reached its 100th day and 13 civilians were shot dead by the police in an open firing incident on May 22.

The people living in and around Sterlite’s copper smelter plant in Thoothukudi were protesting against the operation of the plant alleging that the effluents caused health issues. The protest reached its 100th day on May 22, and the protestors organised a peace march till the Collectorate. Controversy began when the TN police opened fire on the protesters which resulted in 13 civilians losing their lives and several others injured.

Following massive outrage from across the state, the state government ordered the closure of the plant on May 28 citing non-compliance of the regulations set by the TNPCB.

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