MADURAI: Coming down heavily on the Tamil Nadu government, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court advised the current dispensation to take a policy decision, if it was really bent on shutting down Sterlite copper smelter permanently, rather than passing a Government Order (GO)
Hearing a batch of petitions, including the one filed by MDMK General Secretary Vaiko, seeking permanent closure of Sterlite industries, a Bench comprising Justices C T Selvam and A M Basheer Ahamed heard the submissions made by advocates appearing on behalf of the petitioners, claiming that the decision taken by the Tamil Nadu government to close the Sterlite plant was based on the recommendations and report submitted by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) was not a firm one.
The counsel expressed apprehension that there was a possibility of reversal of the closure order, which could not stand the scrutiny of an appellate Court or the apex court as the Government Order (GO) was not legally strong.
The judges, pointing out a Supreme Court judgment slapping a `100 crore fine on Sterlite, said that it was evident from the apex court verdict that there was a possibility of environmental damage by Sterlite, so, the fine imposed would be spent on measures to mitigate the environmental damage, including those done to water and soil, in the vicinity of the plant.
“Even after 20 years, the situation remains unchanged (regarding Sterlite) and now the world and governments are moving forward in dealing with the environmental challenges. Article 48A of the Constitution should be taken into account,” the judges said.
Rejecting the contention of Additional Advocate General Chellapandian that the compensation for the victims May 22 Thoothukudi firing had been enhanced, the judges lashed out saying, “No amount can replace a life”. “If the government is serious in closing down Sterlite, citing the environmental hazards, let them take a policy decision instead of passing a GO,” the judges told the AAG, and directed him to submit the stand of the government on the suggestions on June 22.
Rs 100 crore fine
The judges, pointing out a SC judgment slapping a `100 crore fine on Sterlite, said that it was evident from the apex court verdict that there was a possibility of environmental damage, so, the amount would be spent on measures to mitigate environmental damage
Vaiko happy with order
Thoothukudi: MDMK General Secretary Vaiko expressed happiness on the intervention of the court in Sterlite issue, with the Madurai Bench advising the State to come forward with a policy decision to shut down the copper smelter. stating that the current GO could be easily cancelled. Addressing press persons in Thoothukudi on Wednesday, Vaiko said that he was happy with the proceedings of the court.
It has advocated the State government to come up with a policy decision on the closure of Sterlite Copper. The GO issued on May 28, stating to shut down the copper unit, is an eyewash, and it cannot withstand judicial scrutiny, he added. Vaiko appreciated the judges for directing government to submit reasons and details for the closure ‘unambiguously’.