The National Green Tribunal on Thursday issued a notice to the Tamil Nadu government and the state’s Pollution Control Board on mining corporation Vedanta’s plea challenging the permanent closure of its Sterlite copper smelter in Thoothukudi, PTI reported. The government closed the plant after protests against it left 13 people dead in May.

A bench headed by Acting National Green Tribunal Chairperson Justice Jawad Rahim asked the state and the board to respond before July 18. The green court also allowed the state government to file a statement questioning the maintainability of Vedanta’s plea.

On Tuesday, Vedanta called the closure order and the pollution control board’s refusal to renew its operating licence “impugned and unlawful”. It asked the green court to issue an interim stay so that the plant can continue operations pending appeal.

The mining company also urged the tribunal to direct the pollution control board to restore and provide minimum power supply, water and manpower access to the plant so that its emergency systems can be safeguarded.

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 has the capacity to produce 4.38 lakh tonnes of anodes per annum, or 1,200 tonnes per day.