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SC lets Vedanta open Thoothukudi copper plant for upkeep

2023-11-30 19:13:21source:qsj

THE SUPREME COURT Monday allowed Vedanta Ltd to carry out certain physical works at its Sterlite copper plant in Thoothukudi, including the evacuation of remaining gypsum, removal of leachate or industrial waste to avoid environmental degradation, and maintenance of the green belt.

SC lets Vedanta open Thoothukudi copper plant for upkeep

The plant, which Vedanta claims accounted for 40 per cent of domestic copper production, was shut down in May 2018 following an order by the state pollution control board.

SC lets Vedanta open Thoothukudi copper plant for upkeep

A high-powered committee set up by the state government for carrying out a ‘Civil and Structural Safety Integrity Assessment Study which submitted its report in July 2022 had “noticed serious structural defects”. A March 6, 2023, letter by the Additional Chief Secretary to the Thoothukudi District Collector permitted the latter to allow activities such as removal of gypsum and leachate, and green belt maintenance.

SC lets Vedanta open Thoothukudi copper plant for upkeep

“As regards those actions which have been permitted to be carried out by the communication dated 6 March 2023, we allow necessary consequential steps to be taken,” the bench also comprising Justices P S Narasimha and J B Pardiwala said in its order.

In a regulatory filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange, Vedanta Ltd, said it had filed applications seeking reliefs from the Supreme Court to ensure proper upkeep of the copper smelter plant. “The Supreme Court has permitted Vedanta Limited to carry out the activities at the plant,” it said.

A Sumathi, Chief Operating Officer, Sterlite Copper, said in a statement, “We look forward to carrying out the upkeep activities at the plant. Our stakeholders have expressed hope and cheer about today’s development at the court and they are waiting for the plan to restart operations.”

While allowing certain works, the Supreme Court also noted that the District Collector had not permitted to undertake Civil And Structural Safety Integrity Assessment Study in the plant premises, removal and transportation of spares/ equipment etc and evacuation of in-process reverts and other raw materials lying idle in the premises of the plant/ stores.

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On the activities that have not been allowed, Senior Advocate C S Vaidyanathan, who appeared for Tamil Nadu government said, “The state government will once again evaluate whether any further or supplementary directions should be issued in that regard.”

Senior Advocate Darius Khambata who appeared for Vedanta Ltd said, “Having due regard to the serious deficiencies which were reported by the High-Powered Committee, there is no reason why the other steps as proposed by the Committee should not be taken”. Vedanta was willing to undertake those activities at its own costs, he told the court.

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The SC asked the state government to appraise it the “considered decision” on this on next date of hearing scheduled for May 4.

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