The Madras High Court on Tuesday refused to allow Vedanta to reopen its Sterlite copper smelting plant in Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukudi city, Bar and Bench reported.

The verdict was delivered by a division bench comprising Justices TS Sivagnananam and Bhuvani Subbaroyan. The bench said that it would have delivered its verdict by March 12 but the coronavirus pandemic caused a delay.

The Tamil Nadu government had closed down the facility after 13 people protesting against its expansion were killed in police firing on May 22, 2018. The government had also alleged that the facility had violated environmental norms.

In March 2019, the Madras High Court had declined to grant interim relief to Vedanta to access the copper plant for maintenance and administrative purposes.

Vedanta had filed a petition seeking the reopening of its facility on February 27. The petition was filed after the Supreme Court refused to allow the plant to reopen, setting aside an order of the National Green Tribunal. The top court had, however, said the Tamil Nadu government and Vedanta were free to approach the Madras High Court on the matter.

In December 2018, the National Green Tribunal had set aside the Tamil Nadu government’s order to close the plant. The state government filed a plea against it, arguing that the tribunal had no jurisdiction in the matter. NGT 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.