The Supreme Court on Monday refused to allow the reopening of Vedanta’s Sterlite plant at Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu, setting aside an order of the National Green Tribunal, ANI reported. The top court said the Tamil Nadu government and Vedanta are free to approach the Madras High Court on the matter.
A bench of Justices RF Nariman and Naveen Sinha said the National Green Tribunal had no jurisdiction in the matter, Live Law reported.
The Supreme Court also asked the Central Bureau of Investigation to conduct a fair and impartial investigation into the police firing that killed 13 people protesting against the plant last year, ANI reported.
Meanwhile, Thoothukudi District Collector Sandeep Nanduri said the plant will be closed permanently and removal of waste from the plant will be stopped, ANI reported. Police deployed near the plant will also be reduced, the collector said.
In December, the National Green Tribunal had set aside the Tamil Nadu government’s order to shut down the plant. The state government filed a plea against it, arguing that the tribunal had no jurisdiction in the matter.
The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government had decided to shut down Vedanta’s copper smelter days after 13 people protesting against its expansion were killed in May last year. The National Green Tribunal described the state’s order as “unsustainable”, and directed the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board to issue a fresh order of renewal of consent for the smelter within three weeks. The board had refused to do so.
On January 8, the Supreme Court had refused to stay the tribunal’s order allowing the plant to reopen.
On January 29, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board had told the Supreme Court that pollutants from the Sterlite copper plant in Thoothukudi have entered the groundwater and the nearby Uppar river.
The state government had contended that the National Green Tribunal failed to consider all data, documents and evidence before directing the pollution control board to renew the consent granted to Vedanta Group to handle hazardous substances. The state said that Vedanta does not comply with pollution norms.