Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board ends Sterlite’s expansion bid

Board withdraws CTE for phase 2 after SIPCOT cancels land allotment
Sealed Sterlite copper smelter plant at Thoothukudi. (EPS | V Karthikalagu)
Sealed Sterlite copper smelter plant at Thoothukudi. (EPS | V Karthikalagu)

CHENNAI: Is it the end of the road for Vedanta Sterlite’s expansion plans in Thoothukudi? The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) has withdrawn the Consent to Establish (CTE) granted to the second copper smelter unit for which work was going on in full swing until the ‘infamous’ police firing on May 22 which killed 13 civilians.  

Confirming the development, district environment enginner PS Livingston told Express that CTE was withdrawn on June 7 and the same was communicated to the Sterlite.

The official said the decision was taken, based on a series of developments that took place post-May 22. The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court granted an interim stay on the environment clearance granted to the second unit in 2009 and renewed in 2015 and 2016. The court told Sterlite to send a new application seeking environmental clearance to the Centre. It observed that the company would need fresh clearance for phase 2 of its expansion and could not use the clearance that was granted for phase 1. “Citing interim stay, we have withdrawn the CTE,” the official said.

The High Court Bench, comprising Justices M Sundar and Anita Sumant, had passed the order on the public interest litigation filed by environmentalist Fathima Babu. The bench also directed the Centre to hold a public hearing within four months before granting environment clearance to Sterlite.

Apart from the interim stay, the State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu Limited (SIPCOT) cancelled land allotment to the tune of 342.22 acres for the proposed second unit.


  • January 1, 2009: MoEF grants environment clearance to Sterlite’s (1,200 tonnes per day) second copper smelter unit. Renewed in 2015 and 2016.

  • November 14, 2016: TNPCB issued Consent to Establish.

  • May 22: Thoothukudi breaks out into public protest against expansion, police open fire killing 13 civilians.

  • May 23: High Court issued interim stay on expansion.

  • May 29: SIPCOT withdraws 342.22 acres of land allotted.

  • June 7: TNPCB cancels Consent to Establish.

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