Sterlite re-opening: Minister tells Assembly review petition may be filed

Chennai: Soon after the Supreme Court today refused to stay a National Green Tribunal (NGT) order to reopen the controversial Sterlite plant in Thoothukudi, the issue was raised in the State Assembly by Leader of the Opposition, M K Stalin.

He questioned the Tamilnadu government’s stand on the reopening of the plant.

“Has the order of the SC regarding the Sterlite plant come to the notice of the government? What is the government going to do on the matter?” Stalin asked the ruling AIADMK.

In response, State Electricity Minister Thangamani said if needed, the government will file a review petition in the matter.

The apex court earlier today refused to stay the green court order to reopen the Sterlite plant in Thoothukudi. A bench headed by Justice R F Nariman was hearing an appeal by Tamilnadu against the December order of the NGT that called for reopening of the plant.

Yesterday, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami had assured the Assembly that the government will not allow reopening of the plant. He was responding to a question put forth by Stalin.

The State government had filed a plea through advocate M Yogesh Kanna, that sought the NGT order to be set aside as it was ‘erroneous’ and passed without application of mind towards the evidence furnished by the Tamilnadu government to show that Vedanta had polluted groundwater.

“The tribunal failed to consider the data, document and evidence furnished by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to prove that Vedanta had irreversibly polluted the groundwater in and around Thoothukudi district,” the petition said.

On 15 December 2018, the green tribunal ordered the reopening of Vedanta’s copper smelter plant, months after it was shut by the Tamilnadu government over alleged pollution.

It had asked TNPCB to pass a fresh order of renewal of consent and authorisation to handle hazardous substances, subject to appropriate conditions for protection of environment in accordance with law, within three weeks.

Chief of MDMK, Vaiko, today said the Palaniswami’s government did not take a policy decision on the plant. He went on to accuse the AIADMK administration of acting in a biased manner towards Sterlite.

Thirteen people were killed last year when police opened fire on the 100th day of protest against the Vedanta-owned plant, which residents and environmentalists have long wanted to be shut. They cited air and water pollution as the reason for their demand, a charge Vedanta denies.

Autopsy reports showed 12 of the protesters were hit by bullets on the head or chest.

NT Bureau