Supreme Court extends stay on Sterlite plant shutdown


New Delhi/Chennai : The Supreme Court Monday extended the interim stay on the Madras High Court order closing down the Sterlite Industries’ copper smelter plant at Tuticorin In Tamil Nadu till the second week of December.

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Hearing the special leave petition (SLP) filed by Sterlite against the High Court’s order, the apex court extended the stay granted earlier and asked the company to file all the reports that were placed before the High Court.

Sterlite Industries, part of the Anil Agarwal-led Vedanta Resources, had filed the SLP claiming that the high court did not give it a proper hearing and ignored its submissions.

“The court was upset as the company did not file the NEERI (National Environmental Engineering Research Institute) report that was against it. It had submitted another NEERI report that was favourable,” S.M.Jadhav, advocate representing National Trust for Clean Environment (NTCE), told IANS.

He said the court directed Sterlite to submit all the reports and also file an affidavit on the action taken on the undertaking it had given earlier on disposal of solid waste while praying for High Court order’s stay.

“The court also directed the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to file a status report,” Jadhav said.

According to him, a notice has been issued to the environment and forest ministry on the subject.

Meanwhile, employees and workers at the smelter plant heaved a sigh of relief on the apex court’s decision.

Last month the Madras High Court had ordered immediate closure of the copper smelter plant for violating environmental laws and causing pollution.

Delivering its order on a batch of writ petitions filed by NTCE and MDMK General Secretary Vaiko, a bench of Justice Elipe Dharmarao and Justice N. Paul Vasanthakumar also said the employees were entitled to compensation under Section 25 of the Industrial Disputes Act.

The act provides for payment of compensation at the rate of 16 days wages for every completed years of service on closure of a plant.

The high court also asked the Tuticorin district collector to take necessary steps for the re-employment of the factory workers in other organisations around Tuticorin to the extent possible to protect their livelihood.

Quashing the environmental clearances given by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) for the original setting up of the plant as well as subsequent capacity expansion, the court said the plant had come up within the 25 km of the environmentally fragile zone near the Gulf of Mannar.

MDMK Legal Wing Secretary G. Devadoss meanwhile said: “We have hired a lawyer to appear on our behalf in the Supreme Court.”