MADURAI: The Madurai Bench of Madras High Court on Monday restrained officials and a private individual from removing copper slag allegedly dumped by Sterlite Copper plant in Uppar river in Thoothukudi.
A division bench of Justices TS Sivagnanam and S Ananthi ordered the injunction after it was informed that an appeal relating to the issue is pending before the Supreme Court.
"Whether or not the said waste is a hazardous, is yet to be determined by the top court. The waste should not be removed till then," the judges opined and adjourned the case hearing for three months.
The direction was issued in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition filed by one SMA Pon Gandhimathi Nathan of Thoothukudi. Nathan alleged in his PIL that the slag was dumped by Sterlite copper smelter on the banks of Uppar river and the nearby land. It obstructed the river's course and led to floods in neighbouring villages in 2015, he added. Following a petition filed by him, the High Court Bench, in 2018, had directed the authorities to remove the slag from the area, but the order was not complied with, Nathan said.
Suppressing the said facts, one Leelavathy, owner of one of the aforementioned lands where the slag is dumped, recently obtained an order from the High Court to remove the slag for commercial purpose, Nathan alleged and approached the court. He wanted the court to restrain Leelavathy from removing the slag and sought a direction for the authorities to remove it.