Sterlite Copper plant in Tuticorin to remain closed, orders Madras HC

The Madras High Court rejected Vedanta’s appeal, challenging the state government’s move to shut down its Sterlite Copper plant, saying the “closure order stands”.

Madras HC refuses to allow the reopening of Sterlite Copper smelting plant in Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukudi (ANI)

The Madras High Court, in its judgment on a plea filed by Vedanta Limited challenging the Tamil Nadu government’s move to close its Sterlite Copper plant in Tuticorin, said the copper plant will stay closed. The Vedanta’s Sterlite Copper plant has been closed since April 2018.

The Madras High Court rejected Vedanta’s appeal, challenging the state government’s move to shut down its Sterlite Copper plant, saying the “closure order stands”. The court had reserved judgment on January 8 this year.

The plant, India’s second-biggest copper smelter known as Sterlite Copper, was shut in March 2018 for maintenance and pending a renewal of its licence. The Tamil Nadu government ordered its closure on May 28, 2018, after 13 people were killed during a protest against the Sterlite Copper.

Residents and environmental activists have long demanded a shutdown of the copper smelter, which had an annual production of more than 400,000 tonnes, citing air and water pollution. Vedanta had then denied the accusations of pollution.

The same year, the National Green Tribunal dismissed Tamil Nadu government’s decision to close Vedanta’s Sterlite Copper plant in Tuticorin. It also directed Vedanta to deposit Rs 2.50 crore as a token amount for their failures and asked the company to spend Rs 100 crores within a period of three years for the welfare of the inhabitants in the area.

In December 2019, an NGO in Chennai had released a statement stating that the air quality in Tuticorin has improved after the closure of the Sterlite plant in Tuticorin.

“Air quality was unhealthy for more than 56 percent of the time in April 2017 to March 2018 when the factory was in operation. Unhealthy air days have reduced by 27 per cent between April 2018 and March 2019. During the same two periods, the number of days with acceptable air quality increased from 44 per cent to 73 per cent after Sterlite was closed,” the NGO, Chennai Solidarity Group, said.



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