CHENNAI: VEDANTA Limited moved the Madras High Court on Wednesday to quash a communication, dated May 23 last year, of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), which ordered the closure of its copper smelter unit in Thoothukudi. The writ petition is likely to come up for hearing on Thursday.
Among other things, Vedanta contended that PCB had ‘miserably’ failed in its statutory duties and blindly passed the closure orders bowing to political pressures and acting to whims and fancies of the State government.
The PCB’s order refusing renewal of consent and closure are wholly illegal, unconstitutional and ultra vires of the Air and Water Act. The order is unsustainable in the facts and circumstances of the case and liable to be quashed on the ground of violation of the principles of natural justice, besides being vitiated by reliance on extraneous considerations. “The order has been made as per the TNPCB’s convenience for stopping the operation of Sterlite with complete non-application of mind…,” the petition added.
Claiming that the order, issued on the ground that the unit was carrying out activities to resume its production, is bad in law, Vedanta said that when the order was passed, one of the furnace-induced draft fans was completely in dismantled condition. Further the ducts of its smelter and sulphuric acid plant, which were brought down for maintenance during shutdown, are still on the ground. They are not connected and production without these machineries is not possible.
Moreover, closure of an industry is the last measure to take in the absence of any other alternative. The TNPCB being a statutory public authority was expected to consider all balancing factors before passing the order, Vedanta said.