The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday rejected Vedanta Group's plea seeking an early hearing in the Sterlite Copper plant case. The company's copper smelter in Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu, was shut down last year after 13 protesters died in police firing. Anil Agarwal-led company had moved the apex court on April 11, seeking access to the plant for maintenance. The company had added that due to inordinate delay in the hearing, it was facing a loss of nearly Rs 5 crore every day.
Mining mogul Anil Agarwal's company had faced a setback in February after the Supreme Court set aside the National Green Tribunal's December 15 order to reopen the plant closed on the orders of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB). The NGT had set aside the state government's order calling it "non-sustainable" and "unjustified", while the state government also moved the top court, saying the NGT had "erroneously" set aside various orders passed by the TNPCB last year with regard to the Sterlite plant.
The SC said it was allowing the state's appeal against the NGT order only on grounds of maintainability. The apex court, however, asked the company to move Madras High Court to challenge the pollution board's order.
Sterlite copper's plant in Tuticorin has the capacity to produce 400,000 metric tonnes of copper a year. According to Care Ratings, the closure of the Tuticorin smelter had resulted in a steep fall of over 42 per cent in domestic refined copper production during the first half of the FY19. This, in turn, led to the domino effect of a sharp increase in the country's imports and fall in the exports thus turning India into a net importer of refined copper from being a net exporter.
Edited by Manoj Sharma