Tamil Nadu, Sterlite Slug it Out in NGT Over Plant Closure
JURISDICTION ISSUES Tamil Nadu government argued that Sterlite’s petition challenging the plant’s closure order cannot be argued before the NGT
Chennai: Sterlite Copper has submitted a report to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) saying it was substantially in agreement with the panel report that held the closure of the “unsustainable” plant, but had suggestions to certain points present in the report, said counsellors present during the hearing on Friday.
The Tamil Nadu government argued that Sterlite’s petition challenging the plant’s closure order cannot be held before the National Green Tribunal, and that the Tarun Agrawal committee cannot hold that the closure of the factory was against Principles of Natural Justice because “it was a fact-finding committee and does not have judicial powers,” according to a counsellor who was present in court on behalf of the state government. The National Green Tribunal adjourned the case until Monday.
The hearing on Friday followed the submission of a report by a 3member team headed by former judge Tarun Agrawal. The report said that the grounds for closure of the Vedanta factory were not “that grievous” to warrant the state government’s move to shut the factory. Should the NGT decide to allow reopening of the plant, the Committee had made 25 recommendations for the copper smelter plant and monitoring agencies such as the state pollution control board.
The Tarun Agrawal report, among other aspects of environ- mental concern, dealt with the issue of disposal of gypsum and copper slag.
The report, excerpted in an NGT order copy dated November 28, recommended that the company should seek prior permission from the state pollution board before “disposing copper slag, gypsum or any other waste product.” The report also mandated that the state pollution control board should keep a tab on report of various complaints by inhabitants, about ailments, living around the factory premises.
Sterlite Copper was shut through a government order in May this year after people were killed by police firing after protests against the plant turned violent. In Tamil Nadu, keeping Sterlite Copper closed has been a political promise by the Edappadi K Palaniswami-led AIADMK government.