The Sterlite Copper plant in Tamil Nadu. (Source: Sterlite Copper Twitter Page)

India Court Backs Vedanta Restart Order While State Appeals

(Bloomberg) -- India’s top court has asked Tamil Nadu to comply with a green tribunal order allowing the restart of Vedanta Ltd.’s copper smelter that has been shut since March, while also agreeing to hear the southern state’s appeal.

The Supreme Court, in an interim ruling, has asked Tamil Nadu to comply with last month’s National Green Tribunal’s order, which said the state’s pollution board should grant Vedanta consent to operate its copper unit. Meanwhile, the top court will listen to an appeal by the state against the reopening of the plant before coming to a final decision.

The company had already halted operations for maintenance in March and later extended the closure in the face of mounting opposition from villagers against pollution caused by the plant. The state government shuttered Vedanta’s 400,000 metric tons a year copper smelter, which accounts for nearly half of India’s output, in May after 13 people died when police opened fire on protesting villagers.

The Indian tribunal in December had quashed the state government’s order to shut the smelter, after a panel appointed to investigate the matter ruled that the closure wasn’t justified and was “against the principles of natural justice.”

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