ANI Photo | SC dismisses Vedanta’s plea to re-open Sterlite copper smelter plant at Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu

The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed an appeal of Vedanta group for reopening of its Sterlite copper smelting plant in Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukudi.
A bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra dismisses the appeal of Vedanta Limited citing “repeated breaches” and “serious violations” on its part.
Vedanta had approached the apex court against August 2020 Madras High Court order dismissing a batch of pleas by the company against the closure of its copper plant in Thoothukudi and other consequential orders passed by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB).
“The court is conscious of the nature of contribution of the company to the area. However, the court has to be mindful of the principle of sustainable development and health and welfare of the residents of the area,” the bench said in its order.
The bench in its order noted that the unit has been contributing to the productive assets of the nation and providing employment and the revenue in the area, these well-settled principles of environmental jurisprudence must be remembered.
“The health and welfare of the residents of the area of utmost concern and in the ultimate analysis, the State government is responsible for preserving and protecting their concerns. After capable evaluation, we have come to the conclusion that the special leave petition by the industrial unit does not warrant interference under Article 136 of the Constitution. The special leave petition stands dismissed,” the top court noted in its order.
It further dismissed the appeals filed by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board challenging the observations made by the High Court against it regarding its inaction.
“We are of the view that the High Court was justified in making those observation in regard to the lack of alacrity on the part of the TNPCB in discharging its duties,” it stated.
The apex court was hearing Vedanta’s plea to reopen Thoothukudi Sterlite plant.
The plant has been shut since May 2018 after a police firing killed 13, protesting against the polluting unit.
The appeal by the company assailed the High Court’s judgement which upheld the Tamil Nadu government’s decision of May 28, 2018, to shut down the plant due to environmental concerns.
The High Court had rejected petitions of Vedanta Ltd, saying prohibitory orders were rightly passed by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board against the plant for violating laws related to pollution control

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