Chennai: The allotment of land for the proposed expansion of Vedanta group’s copper plant in Tuticorin was today cancelled “in larger public interest” by the State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu Ltd (SIPCOT), an official release said.
“As the allotment of land for the proposed expansion has been made by SIPCOT, in larger public interest, the land allotment made by SIPCOT for proposed expansion of copper smelter plant (Phase-2) by Vedanta Ltd is hereby cancelled,” SIPCOT said in its communication to the Vedanta group.
“The land price collected for the said land allotment will be refunded as per the norms of SIPCOT,” it said. There have been a series of agitations against the establishment of a copper plant at the SIPCOT industrial complex in Tuticorin, about 600 km from here, expressing concerns about the pollution caused, it added.
An official release here said, “The cancellation of allotment of 342.22 acres of land has been made in larger public interest and this has been communicated to the company.” Chief Minister K Palaniswami had yesterday said the state government had issued the directive to seal and ‘permanently’ close the copper unit, in deference to the ‘sentiments’ of the people.
“In deference to the opinion and sentiments of the general public, it was decided to close down the Sterlite plant and a Government Order has been issued today,” he had said. Vedanta Ltd termed the closure “unfortunate” and said it would decide the future course of action after studying the development.
The Madras High Court had on May 23 stayed the expansion of the Vedanta’s copper smelter plant in Tuticorin district on a petition filed by environmental activist Fathima Babu. The petitioner submitted that Vedanta Limited should be restrained from carrying out activities in the lands on which the proposed copper smelter-unit II was being constructed.
The court had also directed the Centre to submit within four months a report after holding a public hearing in the district to invite public opinion on the plan for expansion. The locals were protesting for the closure of the factory for 99 days. Protesters turned violent on May 22, the 100th day of their stir, and 13 people were killed in police action against them last Tuesday and Wednesday.