Madras High Court reserves orders on plea seeking quashing of clearance for Vedanta plant in Thoothukudi
Locals in and around the plant have for long been protesting demanding the closure of Vedanta's copper smelter unit on the ground that it allegedly caused pollution, a charge rejected by the company
MADURAI: The Madras High Court today reserved its order on a PIL seeking quashing of the environmental clearance granted to Vedanta Limited's copper smelter unit in Thoothukudi district in Tamil Nadu.
Justices M Sundar and Anita Sumant of the Madurai bench of the high court reserved the order on a plea by Fathima Babu, an environmentalist, seeking to stay the environmental clearance to Vedanta's copper smelter unit (formerly Sterlite Industries Limited) by the central government in 2009, subsequently renewed in 2015 and 2016.
She also wanted exemplary cost to be imposed on the company for damaging the environment.
The petitioner said Vedanta Limited should be restrained from carrying out activities in the lands on which the proposed copper smelter-unit II was being constructed.
People of Tuticorin had a right to a clean environment which had been spoilt by the copper smelter unit, she submitted.
The environmental clearance had been given in 2009 based on misrepresentation by the company and SIPCOT (State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu Limited) that there was no need for public hearing as the factory was located in the SIPCOT complex, the petitioner contended.
This was illegal, irrational and against principles of natural justice, she submitted.
The actions of the Environment Secretary, SIPCOT Managing Director and Sterlite are tainted with fraud, misrepresentation and suppression, the petitioner alleged.
Since the inception of Sterlite copper smelter unit's operations, there had been severe resistance in view of the adverse impact the unit had on environment, the petitioner said.
Several instances of pollution had been documented and cases had been filed against the Sterlite unit, she claimed.
Vedanta Limited had moved the court yesterday seeking additional security and clamping of regulatory orders around its copper smelter plant in Tuticorin, as it apprehended violence during a proposed protest on May 22 demanding closure of the unit.
Locals in and around the plant have for long been protesting demanding its closure on the ground that it allegedly caused pollution, a charge rejected by the company.