Tamil Nadu Rejects Vedanta's Request To Renew Sterlite Plant Operations

The rejection of the plea is being seen as a welcome relief for local communities near the Sterlite plant.

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Tamil Nadu Rejects Vedanta's Request To Renew Sterlite Plant Operations

About 20,000 people had gathered to mount pressure on the state government recently


Chennai:  In a major setback to Vedanta Group's Sterlite plant in Tuticorin, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board has rejected the company's plea for Consent to Operate. The copper smelting plant, which is right now shut for maintenance, cannot resume operations without this renewal. A statement from the Tamil Nadu government states "non-compliance of conditions" to be the reason. 

The rejection of the plea is being seen as a welcome relief for local communities near the Sterlite plant who have been on a continuous protest over the last two months demanding closure of the plant and a halt to Sterlite's expansion plans. About 20,000 people had gathered to mount pressure on the state government recently. Shops and business establishments were shut in protest. 

Actor Kamal Haasan, who had joined the protesters on ground zero recently, has welcomed the development. In a tweet, he said, "Congrats, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board. The non-renewal of consent to operate for existing plant of Sterlite is a step in the right direction but we have miles to go. The people of Tamil Nadu have joined you in maintaining vigil." 

In March 2013, hundreds of people suffered breathing difficulty, nausea and throat infection following an alleged gas leak from the plant. Though the plant was ordered to shut down following allegations of violating pollution control norms, the National Green Tribunal had ultimately allowed it to be reopened. The same year in another case spearheaded by MDMK chief Vaiko, the Supreme Court had slapped a 100 crore fine on the plant for polluting over the years. However, at that time Sterlite, run by the Vedanta group, had claimed it adheres to pollution control norms.

Sterlite began operations in 1996. It now employs about 1,000 people full time and about 2,000 on contract. It also provides indirect employment opportunity for around 25,000 people.

Superstar-turned-politician Rajinikanth too had tweeted in support of protesting local people recently, and questioned why the state government was not acting. A few days ago he said "They had denied allegations of pollution, I went through what they sent. But, I'm not convinced."


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