New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Saturday set the stage for the reopening of the Vedanta’s Thoothukudi-based copper smelting plant by setting aside the Tamil Nadu governments order to close it permanently and directed the state pollution control body to pass a fresh order permitting renewal of consent for the copper smelter within three weeks.
Directing the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to pass the order of “renewal of consent and authorisation to handle hazardous waste”, the NGT principal bench headed by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said that Vedanta would be entitled to restoration of electricity for its operations.
Directing the Board to pass the necessary renewal order within three weeks from Saturday, the Green Tribunal set aside the orders passed by the state pollution control body sealing the plant. The Tribunal said that the restoration of electricity would be subject to the compliance of its directions on complying with its directions on Vedanta spending Rs 100 crore, offered by it, on projects like water supply, hospitals, health services and skill development in the area.
Besides this, Vedanta would create a dedicated and interactive website where stakeholders could lodge their environmental related grievance, regular monitoring of the groundwater quality as mandated by the TNPCB, and give timelines for the “effective compliance” of the conclusions of the Committee.
The order came months after the Tamil Nadu government ordered the shutdown of the plant over alleged pollution.
A violent protest demanding the closure of the plant in May led to at least 13 people getting killed and several others injured when the police opened fire at them. The copper plant has been a subject of several major protests in the state over pollution to the water caused by the plant with presence of heavy metals found in the underground water.