NEW DELHI : Vedanta group firm Sterlite Copper has approached the Supreme Court, seeking access to its closed smelter in Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu to carry out maintenance.

The firm said it had pressed for the hearing of its interim applications and had also sought expeditious hearing of its main petitions but the Madras High Court expressed its inability to hear the matter due to paucity of time.

The plant was ordered shut after 13 people protesting against the plant died in police firing in May last year. The local people were protesting against the environment pollution caused by the plant when the incident happened in May last year.

Vendanta has denied the allegations that its plant caused the pollution.

The firm has said that its "intention was solely to preserve its assets" and for such purpose alone, commence repair and maintenance activities.

It added that lack of maintenance of assets has resulted in a loss of over 100 crore.

The apex court earlier this year directed the company to move the Madras High Court against a Tamil Nadu State Pollution Control Board order shutting the plant down.

The firm said the value of the Tuticorin plant was around 3,000 crore and if the high court did not eventually allow it to restart operations, it would need to transport and assemble equipment to another location.

On 27 March, the high court adjourned the matter till April 23, after MDMK leader Vaiko, said that it be listed after the assembly polls in the state.

The firm said it had objected to the same as the last working day of the high court before the summer vacations is 30 April.

Sterlite in its petition, filed in line with the Supreme Court's recent suggestion, has challenged the 23 May, 2018 orders of TNPCB refusing renewal of consent to the plant as well as permanent closure, terming them as wholly illegal, unconstitutional and ultra vires.

The apex court on February 18 set aside the order of the NGT allowing opening of the copper unit but gave the liberty to the company to approach the high court against the closure order.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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