The Supreme Court on Monday refused to stay the National Green Tribunal’s order directing the appointment of an expert committee to examine the Sterlite Copper plant in Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukudi. At least 13 people had died in police firing during protests against the plant in May, after which the Tamil Nadu government shut it down.

The state government had filed an appeal against the green court’s order forming a committee to examine the plant. However, the Supreme Court on Monday asked the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government on what basis it had requested such a stay order, The News Minute reported.

The National Green Tribunal on August 20 appointed a panel headed by retired Meghalaya High Court Chief Justice Tarun Agarwal to inspect Sterlite’s premises, and submit a report within six weeks on its operations and the pollution it caused.

On Monday, the Supreme Court rejected the state’s claim that since various teams from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board and other agencies have inspected the premises and concluded that the plant caused pollution in nearby areas, there was no need for another committee to look into the matter. The state government had on Sunday rejected the Centre’s report on groundwater contamination in Thoothukudi, claiming the study was biased in favour of the plant.

Vedanta, the mining firm which owns the Sterlite plant, had moved the National Green Tribunal against the state’s order closing the plant. On August 9, the green tribunal passed an order allowing Vedanta to access the plant’s administrative unit. The top court on Monday declined the state government’s plea against this order.

It also asked the green court to decide on the “merits and maintainability” of the state’s appeal after the expert committee submits its report on the plant, PTI reported.