By IE&M Research
The Madurai Bench of Madras High Court has ordered the Vedanta Group to stop construction of the second unit of Sterlite Copper plant at Thoothukudi. A division bench of Justice Anitha Sumanth and Justice M Sundar also directed the Centre to hold public hearings before granting environment clearance to the plant within four months from now, on or before September 23, 2018.
The order comes after nine people were killed and many injured in a clash between policemen and protesters agitating for closure of the Sterlite plant for alleged pollution of the environment.
The Order was passed on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by R Fatima of Thoothukudi against a Sterlite’s application for renewal of environmental clearance. It was for proposed second plant that would double its annual copper refining capacity to 800,000 tonnes.
The PIL said that the company obtained environmental clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests for the second copper smelter plant in 2009. This was subsequently renewed in 2015 and 2016 by ‘misrepresenting the project location being within a notified industrial complex.
However, SIPCOT Industrial Estate, Phase II in which the proposed copper smelter plant was to be commissioned was yet to obtain environmental clearance from authorities. There was no public hearing before environmental clearance was given, the petition added.
The petition sought an injunction against commissioning of second copper plant and quashing of the environmental clearance granted by both the Centre and State as they were against the provisions of Environmental Protection Act, 1986.