New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Monday said an independent judicial committee will decide in about six weeks whether to allow Vedanta Ltd to reopen its copper smelter, which was shut by the Tamil Nadu government on environmental grounds. Tamil Nadu ordered the permanent closure of the plant and disconnected its power supply in May following protests that turned violent and culminated in the police opening fire on protesters, killing 13 of them.

The company has denied that the plant, India’s second biggest copper smelter located in the port city of Thoothukudi, pollutes the area.

NGT Chairman Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said the committee, including representatives from Vedanta, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board and the federal environment ministry, will look into the matter afresh. The committee, to be headed by a retired judge, will have to deliver its verdict within four weeks of formation.

The smelter has an annual production capacity of more than 400,000 tonnes, and the company said last month the closure impacted 350 companies that buy its products.

The NGT earlier this month granted Vedanta, an unity of London-listed Vedanta Resources Ltd, conditional access to the smelter for “administrative purposes".

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