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Apex court reserves order on Sterlite plant

Published by MAC on 2011-09-12
Source: Hinudstan Times

For  previous story on MAC, please go to: Vedanta guilty of violations at Indian copper smelter

Apex court reserves order on Sterlite plant

Hindustan Times

6 September 2011

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Tuesday reserved its order on a plea of Sterlite Industries Ltd. (SIL), which has sought permission to continue operating its Tamil Nadu-based copper smelting plant which was ordered shut over green concerns.

An apex court bench of Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice A.K. Patnaik reserved the order after it was told about the adverse findings of the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) about the operation of the smelting plant in Tuticorin and its impact on air, water and soil in the area.

The court's decision to reserve its order follows its interim order Oct 1, 2010, by which it had stayed the Madras High Court's Sep 28, 2010, direction to close the plant.

Senior counsel C.A. Sundaram submitted that the NEERI report talked about technicalities and the SIL plant has not violated any norm of the ecological sensitive zone (ESZ).

The senior counsel said that the norms were relaxed in 2006 and since then SIL has not violated any green law.

Sundaram told the court that in 1998 when SIL had set up its copper smelting plant in Tuticorin, a thermal power plant and another industry were already in existence in the area.

As Sundaram offered to cure the deficiencies pointed out by the NEERI, the court said that you would not have taken many of the remedial steps but for the intervention of the court.

Referring to the three villages of Bathinda district of Punjab where presence of radioactive material and heavy metal was found leading to severe health problems in the area, the court said "let us not reach that level of pollution".

The company said it would file an affidavit that it would comply with the suggestions contained in the NEERI report.

The court said that (pollution control) measures have to be taken so that the factory could continue to run. "If these were not done then factory has to be closed," the court said.

Senior counsel S. Prakash appearing for NGO gave details of the NEERI report in respect of violations by the plant leading to air, water and soil pollution.

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