Thoothukudi Sterlite copper plant kept waiting for 'power'

Madras HC observed that the committee, appointed by the government to inspect acid leakage in the Sterlite plant in Thoothukudi, did not feel any urgent need for restoring power supply to the plant.

Published: 28th June 2018 04:02 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th June 2018 04:02 AM   |  A+A-

Reuters file image used for representational purposes.

By Express News Service

MADURAI: Observing that the high-powered committee, appointed by the government to inspect the acid leakage in the Sterlite plant in Thoothukudi, did not feel any urgent need for restoring power supply to the plant as claimed by the company, Vedanta, in its petition, the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court adjourned the case to July 6.

When the case came up for hearing before a bench comprising Justices C T Selvam and A M Basheer Ahamed, the Additional Advocate General (AAG) K Chellapandian, submitted that a high powered committee appointed by government on June 21 had already inspected the acid leakage in Sterlite plant in the presence of officials and experts from Sterlite and had submitted a detailed report to the government.
Taking this into account, the Judges observed that, “The high powered committee, if on inspection, had any reason to believe that the plant is in immediate need of electricity supply to prevent safety hazards as claimed by the petitioner, the same would have been informed by the committee to the government which would also have taken an appropriate decision.”

“Since the committee has not felt such an urgency and has already submitted a report to the government, we do not think it necessary to pass any orders restoring power supply to the plant as of now,” said the judges, adding that any further orders on the petition will be taken based on government’s decision on the report which will be discussed in the next hearing on July 6.

The counsel, who appeared for Vedanta, submitted that they would need at least 4-megawatt power for the safety of the unit. He stated that it was fortunate that sulphuric acid leakage was noticed sooner. “To ensure safety, the unit needs electricity supply and round-the-clock observation by experts from the company,” the counsel added.

Plea for cancellation of bail dismissed

The Madurai Bench of Madras High Court dismissed a petition filed by the police seeking cancellation of bail awarded to 65 people, who were arrested in connection with the anti-Sterlite protest in Thoothukudi. The Pudukottai police in Thoothukudi filed the petition praying the Court to cancel the bail granted to 65 people arrested during an investigation of the violence that occurred during the protest against Sterlite. Observing that the police have not submitted enough documents to support their case, Justice G R Swaminathan dismissed the petition.

The police opened fire on people protesting against the private copper smelter, killing 13 protestors and leaving many injured. The district was crippled as transportation, internet services and supply of goods were badly hit. Stating the consequences of Sterlite on environment and health of villagers, people staged protests for over 100 days, seeking permanent closure of the plant.

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