The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board today refused to consider Sterlite's plea for renewal of consent for its copper-smelting plant in Tuticorin, citing an appeal filed against it in the Supreme Court.
The Sterlite plant was ordered shut by the EK Palaniswami government over alleged pollution in May, following violent protests that resulted in the death of 13 protesters. On December 16, the National Green Tribunal decided in the smelting plant's favour -- terming the government's actions as "non-sustainable" and directing the pollution board to pass a fresh order of consent renewal within three weeks.
However, even before Sterlite could start celebrating, the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court put the green tribunal's order on hold until the case comes up for hearing on January 21. It also restrained the Vedanta Group company from taking any steps to reopen the unit.
The Tamil Nadu government moved the Supreme Court against the green tribunal's order earlier today. The pollution board cited this development to not renew consent for the copper-smelting plant.
State authorities had snapped electric supply to the Sterlite plant last May, after protests by local residents resulted in tragic consequences. Environmentalists and local activists claim that the copper-smelting unit was polluting the groundwater in the area, making many come down with serious diseases.
Vedanta had earlier tried to compensate for the alleged environmental risks posed by the unit through offers of spending Rs 100 crore on public welfare in Thoothukudi, besides social work under its Corporate Social Responsibility targets. The company also claimed that there was not "enough proof" to suggest that people's health was being affected.
(With inputs from Agencies)