Sterlite Copper, a unit of Vendanta Ltd, has challenged the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board’s order rejecting its application for renewal of its licence to operate its copper smelter in Thoothukudi. A spokesperson for the company confirmed to that they had filed a petition with the board’s Appellate Authority for renewal of their Consent to Operate.

At the hearing on Tuesday, the chairperson of the Appellate Authority, Justice T Sudanthiram, asked the pollution control board to reply to Sterlite’s plea and scheduled the next hearing for May 4, The New Indian Express reported on Wednesday.

Sterlite’s Consent to Operate, issued by the pollution board, expired on March 31. The chairperson of the board, Nasimuddin, on April 10 said they had rejected the company’s application to renew its licence for the copper plant as it had violated the board’s guidelines. The plant in Thoothukudi, which was shut on March 29 for 15 days of maintenance, will remain temporarily closed.

For over two decades now, activists in Thoothukudi have accused Sterlite of contaminating the region’s air and water resources. Since February, there have been large-scale protests in Thoothukudi, where the copper smelter Sterlite runs has the capacity to produce 4.38 lakh tonnes of copper anodes per annum, or 1,200 tonnes per day.

Vedanta Ltd is part of Vedanta Resources, one of the world’s largest mining and metals conglomerates. The copper smelter has been operational in Thoothukudi since 1996. The company wants to double its capacity by setting up another unit producing 4.38 lakh tonnes of copper anodes per annum.