Thoothukudi Vedanta Sterlite tries to shed polluter tag, says cooked-up charges led to ban

Pertaining to dumping of copper slag along the river Uppar and patta land, Sterlite counsel argued that 3.52 lakh tonnes of slag were sold to a private party in 2010 and it was he who dumped it.

Published: 18th May 2018 03:27 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd May 2018 08:18 PM   |  A+A-

Vedanta (File| AP)

Express News Service

CHENNAI : Vedanta Sterlite’s copper smelter unit in Thoothukudi, which is held liable for polluting the ambient air and water, claimed on Thursday before Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) Appellant Authority that it was a non-polluting industry and the consent-to-operate renewal application was rejected, based on inaccurate and cooked-up grounds by the pollution board. In a three-hour-long argument put forth by senior counsel PS Raman appearing for Sterlite, it was alleged that the pollution board acted based on newspaper reports and public outcry, rather than relying upon scientific material available before it. 

“There is not a single piece of paper available from August 8, 2013, the day when Supreme Court passed a judgment, till date, which suggests Sterlite has caused ambient air and water pollution. We have achieved zero liquid discharge (ZLD) and there is no substantial evidence to prove some of the health problems faced by local communities was because of Sterlite, considering there are several red category industries in the industrial cluster,” Raman said. 

Rebuking the specific grounds on which the consent-to-operate renewal was rejected, Raman said three out of five grounds had already been complied with. For instance, the pollution board’s argument that ground water analysis report taken from borewells within the unit premises as well as surrounding areas has not been furnished to ascertain the impact on ground water quality was not true. 

Sterlite pays the pollution board every month to do the ground water analysis. All reports are available with the board. Also, the third ground that Sterlite didn’t analyse the parameters of heavy metals such as arsenic in the ambient air is also not true. The pollution board also said in the affidavit that Vimta Labs engaged by Sterlite was not NABL-accredited (National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories), which is again factually incorrect. 

There is a National environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) report of 2011, a Vimta Lab report of 2014 and our own accredited lab also monitors arsenic, according to which the levels are well within the permissible limits, the Sterlite counsel argued.With regard to not having hazardous waste authorisation from 2013, Raman said the pollution board was physically sitting on the renewal application 
from 2013. 

If this was a ground to reject our consent-to-operate renewal now, how did the board gave consent in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017? Pertaining to dumping of copper slag along the river Uppar and patta land, Sterlite counsel argued that 3.52 lakh tonnes of slag were sold to a private party in 2010 and it was he who dumped it in his patta land. The company offered to remove the dump at its cost, but argued that it cannot be a ground for rejection of consent. 

On non-construction of a gypsum pond as per the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) guidelines, Raman said that as per the CPCB notification and guidelines thereafter the Sterlite has time till October 2019 to construct the pond. “When we still have more than a year to comply with the condition, how can pollution board deny us consent? This defies the principle of natural justice. The board without giving us an opportunity has outright shut down the industry,” he alleged. Hearing the lengthy arguments, Justice T Sudanthiram, chairman of the Authority, has adjourned the case for final arguments to June 6 when the pollution board’s counsel will place the arguments along with third parties.

Clarifies on Uppar dumping row
Pertaining to dumping of copper slag along the river Uppar and patta land, Sterlite counsel argued that 3.52 lakh tonnes of slag were sold to a private party in 2010 and it was he who dumped it in his patta land. company offered to remove the dump at its cost, he said

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  • John

    “Sterlite sold copper slag to a private party in 2010”. This clearly shows that they are money monsters want to make money out of anything... even from the waste..on the contrary they are claiming they achieved zero effluent discharge... they are trying to fool everyone!!!
    2 months ago reply
  • Jo

    So they can sell slag with poisonous substances in it
    3 months ago reply
    • Rs

      No they cannot. I worked for a similar smelter in Canada for close to 30 years. They would have done long term leachate tests to ensure all constituents are stable before going ahead with the sale. It us not clear to me from the news report regarding the intent of the buyer of the slag. What was the buying company going go do. The company I worked for granulate and keeps the slag within the company property and we do periodic tests
      2 months ago reply
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