Home / News / India /  SC rejects Vedanta’s plea to reopen plant

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday turned down the interim plea filed by Vedanta to reopen its Sterlite Copper smelting plant at Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu till the pendency of the case.

Vedanta had appealed against the Madras high court’s order not allowing the mining company to reopen the copper smelter in Thoothukudi, which is mired in controversy. The top court adjourned the case for detailed hearing to January.

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Sterlite Copper smelter has been shut since May 2018 on orders of the Tamil Nadu government after mounting protests over the unit’s alleged environmental pollution boiled over into a confrontation between police and protesters. As many as 13 demonstrators died in police firing.

During the arguments on Wednesday, villagers opposed the plea for reopening of Sterlite plant even on trial basis. They claimed that wells in the area have dried up and drinking water has turned poisonous impacting the health of the people.

The counsel for Vedanta argued that the opening of the plant was a necessity as it employs 4,000 people and provides benefits to over 20 lakh people.

Vedanta said the high court's order was not based on principles of natural justice. It contented that the HC heard all intervenors but did not provide adequate hearing to the company.

In an 815-page judgment on 18 August, justices T.S. Sivgnanam and V. Bhavani Subbaroyan of Madras high court observed that the unit had violated environmental laws. The case was argued for 42 days in the high court beginning December 2019. The judgment was reserved on 8 January before a division bench of Madras high court dismissed the 10 writ petitions filed by Vedanta against orders passed by the state government and the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board against the smelter under which they refused the company permission to reopen the unit or engage in production, disconnected electricity supplies, and sealed the premises.

The high court also rejected Vedanta’s argument that the closure was triggered by the May 2018 incident.

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