New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined urgent hearing on a plea by the Tamil Nadu government challenging the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) order allowing mining major Vedanta group access to the administrative unit inside its closed Sterlite copper plant at Tuticorin in the state.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said it will hear the plea next week. The state government had on August 14 moved the apex court against the NGT order. The NGT had on August 9 allowed Vedanta to enter the administrative unit inside its Sterlite copper plant, observing that no environmental damage would be caused by allowing access to the administrative section.
The tribunal, however, had said the plant would remain closed and the company would not have access to its production unit and directed the district magistrate to ensure this. The Tamil Nadu government had on May 28 ordered the state pollution control board to seal and “permanently” close the mining group’s copper plant following violent protests over pollution concerns.
Sterlite’s factory had made headlines in March 2013 when a gas leak led to the death of one person and injuries to several others, after which then chief minister J Jayalalithaa had ordered its closure. The company had then appealed to the NGT, which overturned the government order. The state then moved the Supreme Court against it and the case is still pending.
The Supreme Court had then ordered the company to pay Rs 100 crore as compensation for polluting the environment. After Sterlite announced its plans to expand the Tuticorin plant, locals started fresh stir that continued for over 100 days, culminating in the May 22 police firing on protestors that claimed 13 lives and left scores injured.