Supreme Court sets aside NGT order permitting reopening of Vedanta's Sterlite plant in Tamil Nadu's Tuticorin

The Supreme Court on Monday set aside National Green Tribunal's (NGT) order permitting the reopening of Vedanta's Sterlite plant in Tamil Nadu's Tuticorin.

The court allowed Tamil Nadu's appeal on grounds of maintainability and said that NGT has no jurisdiction to order reopening of the plant. The apex court added that Vedanta has the liberty to approach Madras High Court with its plea for reopening of the plant expeditiously.

In November last year, in a setback for the Tamil Nadu government, an NGT-appointed committee that looked into the closure of Sterlite Copper plant in Tuticorin had said that the order to close down the plant was unjustified and " against the principles of natural justice".

Mining company Vedanta's Sterlite Copper Plant saw major protests in Tamil Nadu against pollution to the water caused by the plant with the presence of heavy metals found in the underground water.

Supreme Court sets aside NGT order permitting reopening of Vedantas Sterlite plant in Tamil Nadus Tuticorin

File image of Sterlite Industries Ltd's copper plant in Tuticorin. Reuters

In May 2018, theNGT ordered a permanent shutdown of the plant following recommendations of Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.

The order to seal the premises was, however, reconsidered in August 2018, after a three-member team headed by former Meghalaya High Court Chief Justice Tarun Agrawal was formed.

In November, the committee informed the green panel that no notice or opportunity was given to Vedanta before the closure.

"The impugned orders cannot be sustained as it is against the principles of natural justice. No notice or opportunity of hearing was given to the appellant. The grounds mentioned in the impugned orders are not that grievous to justify permanent closure of the factory," the committee told a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel.

The committee said the closure was wrong even if the appellant was found to be violating the conditions, norms or directions.

--With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Feb 18, 2019 11:09:38 IST

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