The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court today stayed the expansion of the Vedanta's copper smelter plant in Tuticorin district, amid a continuing agitation against the plant. A bench comprising Justice M Sundar and Justice Anitha Sumanth passed the order staying construction of Vedanta's (formerly Sterlite Industries Limited) second unit in Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu, on a petition filed by environmental activist Fathima Babu.
The bench also directed the Central government to submit within four months a report after holding a public hearing in the district to invite public opinion on the plan for expansion. Stertile had got consent to construct the second unit, as the existing unit remained shut for nearly two months now after the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board refused to renew its consent to operate (CTO) the unit.
On May 17, the Pollution Control Board had reserved its order for June 6 on an appeal by Sterlite Copper challenging its decision. The High Court had on May 17 reserved orders on a PIL seeking quashing of the environmental clearance granted to Vedanta's copper smelter unit. Fathima Babu in her petition had sought a stay on the environmental clearance to Vedanta's copper smelter unit. She also wanted exemplary cost to be imposed on the company for damaging the environment.
The petitioner submitted that Vedanta Limited should be restrained from carrying out activities in the lands on which the proposed copper smelter-unit II was being constructed. Violence during a protest in Tuticorin, seeking permanent closure of Sterlite copper plant over alleged pollution issues saw police resort to firing against protestors which has left at least 10 dead and several persons including police personnel injured.