File photo of Vedanta’s Sterlite Copper unit in Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu. (Source: PTI)

Sterlite Plant: Tribunal Remits Vedanta’s Plea To Panel Headed By Former Judge

The National Green Tribunal remitted mining company Vedanta's plea, challenging closure of its Sterlite Copper plant at Thoothukudi, to a committee headed by a former judge.

A bench headed by chairperson AK Goel said that the committee will also include representatives of the Central Pollution Control Board and the Environment Ministry.

"We're of the view that in substitution of the impugned orders, we have to hear before an independent body and remit the matter for fresh consideration before the committee," the bench said.

The tribunal asked the committee to assume work within two weeks and to decide the matter within six weeks. The Green Tribunal said that it will decide the name of the committee head after consulting the probable names.

The panel also reiterated its earlier order allowing Vedanta to access administrative unit of its plant at Thoothukudi. The NGT asked the committee to look into the maintenance work of the plant.

The Tribunal had allowed Vedanta to enter the administrative unit inside its Sterlite Copper plant at Thoothukudi on Aug. 9, observing that no environmental damage would be caused by allowing access to the section.

The green panel had, however, said the plant would remain closed and the company wouldn't have access to its production unit, directing the district magistrate to ensure it.

The court had refused to grant any interim relief to Vedanta last month, which had challenged the Tamil Nadu government's order to permanently shut down its copper plant, even as the firm termed the government action "political".

Earlier, the tribunal had issued notices to the state government and the pollution board seeking their responses after Tamil Nadu raised preliminary objections with regard to the maintainability of Vedanta's plea.

The Tamil Nadu government had, on May 28, ordered the state pollution control board to seal and "permanently" close the plant following violent protests over pollution concerns.