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The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued an interim order, intimating that the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order allowing Vedanta’s appeal against the closure of its Sterlite Copper Plant at Thoothukudi will continue to operate for now.
Effectively, the Madras High Court’s order barring the opening of the Vedanta Plant passed last month has been stayed. As directed in the order passed by the Bench of Justices RF Nariman and Navin Sinha,
“The impugned order dated 21.12.2018 passed by the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court in SLP (C) Nos. 129-131/2019 shall remain stayed.
The directions that have been passed by the National Green Tribunal, by its judgment dated 15.12.2018, will continue to subsist and will be subject to the ultimate outcome of the appeal.“
On December 15, last year, the NGT had allowed Vedanta’s appeal against the closure of its Sterlite Copper Plant at Thoothukodi, finding that the closure orders by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) were disproportionate for the cited environmental violations.
Vedanta had approached the NGT against the TNPCB closure orders that were passed in the backdrop of an agitation by inhabitants of Thoothukudi against the proposed expansion of the Sterlite Copper Plant. The mounting protests eventually culminated in the police opening fire on unarmed civilians, leading to thirteen fatalities.
The NGT in turn allowed Vedanta’s appeal and directed the TNPCB to pass a fresh order of renewal of consent to Vedanta.
However, a week later, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court issued an order of status quo and and directed that the copper plant should not be reopened until the High Court passes further orders.
In the meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu government moved the present appeal before the Supreme Court against the NGT order.
Senior Advocates CS Vaidyanathan and KV Viswanathan appeared for the state government, while Senior Counsel Aryama Sundaram appeared for Vedanta.
Read the Supreme Court order: