The Madras High Court on Tuesday refused to allow reopening of Sterlite Copper plant in Tamil Nadu's Thoothukudi. Vedanta's Sterlite Copper smelting plant has been closed since April 2018.
The verdict was pronounced by a division bench of Justices T S Sivagnanam and V Bhavani Subbaroyan on a petition filed by Vedanta challenging the Tamil Nadu government's decision. The court dismissed all petitions filed by Vedanta. The court had reserved judgment on January 8 this year.
Reacting to the judgment, Vedanta said: "Completely shocked by this judgement. This was completely knee jerk reaction by the govt & closure was only for political reasons. It is a very retrograde step for India that we are importing billions of dollars of Copper from China when we should have been self-sufficient as a country. We are aggrieved since there was never any notice ever given to us for any kind of pollution prior to this closure order."
It was on May 28, 2018 that Vedanta had moved the court challenging the closure order by the state government against its Sterlite Copper plant. The state government had ordered the closure of the plant on May 28, 2018, after 13 people were killed during a protest against Sterlite Copper.
Thereafter, residents and environmentalists had raised a demand to close down the plant citing air and water pollution. However, Vedanta had then denied accusations of pollution.
In December 2019, an NGO in Chennai had released a statement stating that air quality in the region has improved after the closure of the plant.
"Air quality was unhealthy for more than 56 percent of the time in April 2017 to March 2018 when the factory was in operation. Unhealthy air days have reduced by 27 per cent between April 2018 and March 2019. During the same two periods, the number of days with acceptable air quality increased from 44 per cent to 73 per cent after Sterlite was closed," the NGO, Chennai Solidarity Group, had then said.
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