Metals and mining company Vedanta Ltd on Tuesday moved the National Green Tribunal challenging the Tamil Nadu government’s order to permanently shut down its Sterlite copper smelter plant in Thoothukudi. The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government decided to close the plant after 13 people were killed during protests against it in May.
Vedanta called the closure order and the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board’s refusal to renew its Consent to Operate “impugned” and “unlawful”. It asked the principal bench of the green court to issue an interim stay so that the plant could continue operations pending appeal, The New Indian Express reported.
The company also asked the bench to direct the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board to restore and provide minimum power supply, water and manpower access for safeguarding the emergency systems of the unit.
Rakesh Sharma, the standing counsel for the Tamil Nadu government in the National Green Tribunal, said the matter may come up for hearing “within a day or two”. Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar had said on June 28 that the plant will not be opened, despite pleas from yoga guru Ramdev and spiritual leader Jaggi Vasudev.
For more than two decades, activists in Thoothukudi have accused Sterlite of contaminating the region’s air and water resources and causing breathing disorders, skin diseases, heart conditions and cancer. From February, there were large-scale protests against the company’s copper smelter, which had the capacity to produce 4.38 lakh tonnes of anodes per annum, or 1,200 tonnes per day.