Tamil Nadu govt orders permanent closure of Vedanta's Sterlite Copper plant in Tuticorin

The Tamil Nadu government on Monday issued orders closing the copper smelter plant in Tuticorin owned by the Vedanta Group. It has directed the state Pollution Control Board to seal the copper plant and close it down "permanently".

Tamil Nadu govt orders permanent closure of Sterlite Copper plant
File Photo of Vedantas Sterlite Copper unit in Tuticorin. PTI
By: ABP News Bureau
Updated: 28 May 2018 09:01 PM
NEW DELHI: The Tamil Nadu government on Monday issued orders closing the copper smelter plant in Tuticorin owned by the Vedanta Group. It has directed the state Pollution Control Board to seal the copper plant and close it down "permanently".

The order came in the wake of last week's violent protests during which 13 people were killed in police firing.


The Government Order said it has been brought to the notice of the government that Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) did not renew the 'Consent to Operate' to the copper smelter plant in Thoothukudi by its order of April 9 this year and subsequently on May 23, the PCB has also issued directions for closure and disconnection of power supply.

"Under Sections 18(1)(B) of the Water Act, 1974 in the larger public interest, the Government endorse the closure direction of the TNPCB and also direct the TNPCB to seal the unit and close the plant permanently," said the Order.

What is Vedanta's Sterlite unit?

Sterlite Copper is a unit of Vedanta Limited which operates a 400,000-tonne per annum capacity plant in Tuticorin. Vedanta Limited is part of Vedanta Resources, one of the world’s largest mining and metals conglomerates. The smelter has been at the centre of controversy right from its inception in 1996.

Why are people protesting against it?

There have been widespread protests against the establishment and operation of the Sterlite copper smelting plant since the mid 90s as the residents were demanding its closure alleging that it was polluting the area, and leading to severe health problems besides depleting the water table.

The National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) has found evidence that Sterlite has contaminated the groundwater, air and soil.

In 2010, the Madras High Court directed the closure of the smelting plant for failing to comply with environmental norms. Sterlite had against the order moved the Supreme Court, which stayed the high court's order in 2013 but asked the company to pay Rs. 100 crore as compensation for polluting land and water.

The Supreme Court had in 2013 said: "The NEERI reports of 1998, 1999, 2003 and 2005 show that the plant of the appellant did pollute the environment through emissions which did not conform to the standards laid down by the TNPCB under the Air Act and through discharge of effluent which did not conform to the standards laid down by the TNPCB under the Water Act."

Recent protests against Vedanta's Sterlite Copper unit

In March 2018, the locals took to the streets demanding the closure of the plant and a halt to Sterlite's expansion plans. Actor Kamal Haasan, who recently announced his entry into politics, has also joined the protesters to express solidarity with them.

Sterlite Copper unit was shut down on March 29 this year for 15 days for “maintenance work.” The firm has since then placed advertisements in dailies claiming that it has not violated any norms against the background of continuing protests. As the protests grew stronger, Sterlite Copper unit was shut down on March 29 for 15 days for annual “maintenance work.”

The plant remains shut as Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) rejected Sterlite's application for renewal of consent to operate (CTO). The application has been rejected after the state pollution control board found that the factory has failed to adhere to safety measures. The CTO of Sterlite Copper unit has expired on March 31, 2018. The closure was indefinite till the renewal is granted by the pollution board.

Today, the Tamil Nadu government has asked the state Pollution Control Board to seal Vedanta's copper plant.

(With inputs from agencies)

SHOP BY CATEGORIES

         
GET THE APP