Supreme Court refuses to grant interim relief to Vedanta, declines immediate reopening of Tuticorin Plant

    The Apex Court on 2nd December refused to grant relief to Vedanta and also declined plea for immediate reopening of the Tuticorin Plant. A three-judge Bench was asked to hear the plea made by Vedanta which challenged the Madras High Court decision. The Madras High Court had decided not to open the Silicon Cooper Plant at Tuticorin as pleaded by Vedanta. The Bench headed by Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman as of now has postponed the hearing for the January, 2021.
    The Madras High Court earlier this year held that the Vedanta Ltd.’s Sterlite Copper plant was responsible for the disastrous leak of Sulphur Dioxide in March,2013. It has a harming impact on thousands of residents of Tuticorin. This was not the first time that the copper plant has faced such charges. In the year 1997, due to the leakage 20 girls had to be hospitalized because of the impact of the Sulphur Dioxide. But the company managed to escape the charges by convincing the concerned administrative authorities as well as the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB).
    In the winters of 2013, the excessive emissions were monitored by technical devises installed at the units. As a result of Sulphur Dioxide leakage and its harmful impact, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board asked for the immediate shut down of the plant. The Company defied the orders of the Board by getting approval from the Delhi Bench of the National Green Tribunal. This approval was heavily criticized by the Tamil Nadu authorities. The people on the other hand were heavily protesting against the company and also accused the State to support the wrong doers. TNPCB on the grounds of failure to comply with the conditions of the license refused to renew the license of the company in 2018. The company was finally shut for the fifth time by the Government of Tamil Nadu on the grounds of violation of the law.
    The anger of the people on the southern coastline is quite evident. Due to growing concern for the environment, people constantly protested against the company. They held the company responsible for the degrading impact the emissions of Sulphur Dioxide on the environment. The regular resident’s health has also been compromised by the activities of the plant. The protests took some gruesome turn when the police officials open fired as the protestors, resulting into some serious causalities.
    Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi who is representing Vedanta has put forward the contention that the company provides employment to around 4000 people. After the shut down of the plant, the country is heavily depended on copper imports. He also stated that 30% – 40 % of the country’s copper need are met by the plant and also stated that the company complied with all the conditions in pertinence to the environment.
    The company filed an appeal against the orders of the TNPCB in Madras HC. The Madras HC confirmed the decision made by TNPCB and also further dismissed all the appeals. The Vedanta unsatisfied by the judgment, further filed an appeal in the Supreme Court of India. The Supreme Court of India dismissed the approval of the New Delhi Bench of the National Green Tribunal by stating that the Tribunal has no jurisdiction to decide over the case.
    Now the detailed hearing of the aforementioned case will be held in the month of the January, 2021 as decided by the three judge Bench of the Supreme Court of India.