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Vedanta has moved a petition in the Madras High Court seeking to reopen its Sterlite copper plant at Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu. The move comes after the Supreme Court granted Vedanta liberty to move the High Court in this regard.
Vedanta’s Sterlite copper plant in Thoothukudi was shut down by the Tamil Nadu State Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) last year, citing violations of environmental laws. The closure order was passed immediately after the plant had turned into a protest site, with citizens opposing the expansion of the plant. The order was supported by the State government, which endorsed the same within a week.
The protest took a violent turn on its hundredth day when police opened fire on the protesters, leading to several civilian casualties.
Vedanta subsequently challenged the closure order before the National Green Tribunal, which ruled in the company’s favour. This order was challenged by the TNPCB before the Supreme Court in January 2019, when the Court stated that the NGT order of reopening of the plant will continue to operate during the pendency of the appeal.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court set aside the NGT order allowing the reopening of the Sterlite plant, on the ground that the NGT did not have the jurisdiction to entertain the case. However, Vedanta was allowed to move the High Court against the orders passed against it. The Supreme Court had ruled,
“Given the fact that we are setting aside the NGT judgments involved in these appeals on the ground of maintainability, we state that it will be open for the respondents to file a writ petition in the High Court against all the aforesaid orders. If such writ petition is filed, it will be open for the respondent to apply for interim reliefs considering that their plant has been shut down since 09.04.2018.”
Accordingly, the plea filed by Vedanta has now challenged the orders passed by the TNPCB leading up to the closure of its Thoothukudi Sterlite plant.