SC refuses to allow reopening of Sterlite plant

The Supreme Court today set aside an order by the National Green Tribunal which had cleared the way for reopening Vedanta's Sterlite Copper in Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu.

The SC has agreed to Tamil Nadu government's argument that the National Green Tribunal does not have the authority to repeal the government order against Sterlite. The apex court further instructed the plant to take its plea to re-open the smelter, to the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court. "The NGT has no jurisdiction to entertain the case. Sterlite can approach the Madras High Court with its request for permission to reopen the copper plant in Thoothukudi district," the Supreme Court bench headed by Justice RF Nariman said.

It added that it is allowing Tamil Nadu's appeal against the green court order only on grounds of maintainability. The facility was ordered to be shut by the Tamil Nadu government in May 2018 over alleged pollution that led to violent protests in which 13 persons were killed.

However on December 15, the NGT had set aside the state government’s order for closure of the Sterlite copper plant, saying it was “non-sustainable” and “unjustified”. Following this, the Tamil Nadu government had moved the top court, saying that the NGT had “erroneously” set aside various orders passed by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) last year with regard to the Sterlite plant.