Armed with NGT order, Vedanta to approach govt to restart Tuticorin's Copper smelter unit

Last Updated: Mon, Dec 17, 2018 17:54 hrs
Sterlite copper plant

The Sterlite Copper plant in Tuticorin, that had been shut down post intense violence that left as many as 13 dead and over 60 injured in May 2018, could get back to life soon.

On Saturday, the National Green Tribunal ruled in favour of Sterlite and asked the state government of Tamil Nadu to set aside the permanent closure of the plant.

The NGT headed by its Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel in an order, directed the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to pass an order of "renewal of consent and authorisation to handle hazardous waste".

The tribunal asked electricity to be restored to the copper smelter unit of Sterlite. In it's order, the NGT said restoration of electricity would be subject to the compliance of its directions. The NGT also ruled that Vedanta, the parent company would spend Rs 100 crore on projects such as water supply, hospitals, health services and skill development in the area.

Vedanta would also create a dedicated and interactive website where stakeholders could lodge their environmental related grievance, regular monitoring of the ground water quality as mandated by the TNPCB, and give timelines for the "effective compliance" of the conclusions of the Committee.

P Ramnath, the CEO of Sterlite told PTI that Sterlite will approach the state government for consent to operate and will seek access to plant. He said that Sterlite is abiding with all environmental laws. In the report, he also said that owing to the shutdown, the distribution, production and cost of metals such as Copper and acids such as Phosphoric and Sulphuric Acids had increased[by-products at Sterlite's manufacturing facilities].

The closure has also affected downstream chemical and fertilisers industry. Ramnath was quoted as saying, "The plant met 80-90 per cent of demand for sulphuric acid in the country and 15 per cent of the phosphoric acid demand. The closure of our plant has led to a sharp surge in demand, thereby driving up prices."

Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisami was reported in an ANI story on Monday as saying that the state government would approach the Supreme Court against the NGT order.

The CM told reporters, "Sterlite is a private company. Since they have violated the law, the government has closed it. The NGT's verdict has asked to open the Sterlite Company. We [state government] will approach the Supreme Court against the verdict."