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Shut down of Sterlite Copper plant: NGT Committee rules that closure is against natural justice

The Tamil Nadu government on May 28, 2018 ordered the permanent closure of the controversial Sterlite Copper factory in Thoothukudi or Tuticorin, following major protests against the operation of the plant that led to the killing of 13 people and left around 100 wounded.

Nov 28, 2018 17:04 IST
Shut down of Sterlite Copper plant: NGT Committee rules that closure is against natural justice

A National Green Tribunal (NGT) Committee on November 27, 2018 ruled that the closure of the Sterlite copper plant in Tamil Nadu is not sustainable and is against the natural justice, thus, the closure is not justified.

The committee directed Vedanta to set rules for carrying out waste management. The panel also asked the Central Pollution Control Board to ensure the firm’s compliance with pollution norms.

When was the Committee constituted and Why?

A three-member committee was constituted by the National Green Tribunal in August 2018 to carry out an “independent probe” into the closure of the Sterlite copper plant in Tamil Nadu, following Vedanta’s plea challenging the State government’s closure order of the Sterlite units.

The committee was constituted to ascertain “whether a credible mechanism” can be adopted to address the issue.

The committee is headed by former Chief Justice of Meghalaya High Court Tarun Agarwal and comprises scientists Satish C. Garkoti and H.D. Varalaxmi.

Following the submission of report, a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel directed both Vedanta and the Tamil Nadu government to file its responses to the report within one week.

Earlier, the NGT had granted Vedanta access to the administrative sections of the plant, while specifying that no production work can take place.

Shut down of Sterlite Copper plant

The Tamil Nadu government on May 28, 2018 ordered the permanent closure of the controversial Sterlite Copper factory in Thoothukudi or Tuticorin, following major protests against the operation of the plant that led to the killing of 13 people and left around 100 wounded.

What led to the protests against the operation of the plant?

• The protests against the operation of the plant intensified during the beginning of the 2018 after Sterlite plant applied for approval to double the capacity of the plant to 800000 metric tonnes per annum.

• The residents of nearby villages claimed that the smelter caused widespread air and water pollution, and has also led to unnaturally high cancer rates in surrounding villages.

• The residents of A Kumareddiyarpuram village in Tuticorin even complained about breathing and skin problems and cancer symptoms.

• These protests and claims caught attention worldwide after the state police opened fire on the protesters, accused them of pelting stones, setting fire and breaching the fences of government buildings.

Sterlite Copper Plant

The Sterlite Copper Plant is a unit of Vedanta Ltd which operates a 400000-tonne per annum capacity plant. The company operated the copper smelter plant in Tuticorin. The plant included a refinery, a phosphoric acid plant and a sulphuric acid plant.

The factory had first made headlines in March 2013 when a gas leak killed one person, besides injuring several others.