MAC: Mines and Communities

Vedanta Indian copper smelter closed, following toxic leak

Published by MAC on 2013-04-01
Source: The Hindu, statement, Zee News, IANS, TNN

London Calling deplores more obnoxious behaviour by UK company

"Sooner or later, we can rely on London's Vedanta plc to arouse the ire of its many opponents by committing further criminal offences"

Sterlite protest
Residents celebrate last week's closure of
 Vedanta's copper smelter in Tuticorin

That was a comment, made on the MAC website in July 2012, after the company had been accused of no fewer than three offences in two Indian states over the space of a few days. See: Vedanta accused of further serious violations in India

Five months on, in December 2012, a judicial inquiry found Vedanta guilty of complicity in the deaths of at least 42 workers at its aluminium complex in Chhattisgarh. See: Vedanta found guilty of grave safety breaches in India

Then, last week,  its Sterlite subsidiary was ordered to close the country's largest copper smelter at Tuticorin in coastal Tamil Nadu, after a 23 March leak of sulphur dioxide  allegedly incapacitated many local residents.

On Tuesday 2 April 2013, India's Supreme Court is expected to decide whether or not Vedanta can re-open the plant.  In September 2010, the Madras High Court had ordered a shutdown, following numerous complaints, made by local groups.

But,a few weeks later, the Supreme Court allowed the smelter to continue operating within prescribed emissions limits, awaiting the submission of further testimony. See: Vedanta off the hook in Tamil Nadu - but only for a while

In fact,there have been numerous instances of air, water, and soil pollution, poisoning, and the maiming and suspicious deaths of Tuticorin workers during the past sixteen years. See: Occupational Injuries and Deaths at Sterlite

Local civil society leaders and politicians have been demanding the plant's shutdown since 1996 - among them Vaiko, a legendary Tamil lawyer and founder of the opposition MDMK  (See below).

A matter of justice

Will justice now prevail, with the Supreme Court ordering perpetual closure of the smelter?

Tamil Nadu's Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) has turned an unseeing eye to many earlier violations of Sterlite-Vedanta's licence to run the plant.

The company says it is "meeting 50 percent of the domestic requirements of copper and... contributing Rs.1,600 crore [around US$800 million] by way of taxes". That's not something the current pro-industry central goverment will sniff at.

However, Vedanta's response to this new "crisis" flies flagrantly in the face of the evidence.

It claims that the March 23 gaseous emissions were "within permissible limits ... There are no violations of pollution norms on our part". But the TNPCB confirms that the emissions did indeed exceed limits set earlier by the Supreme Court.

Since 2004, this column has called for Vedanta itself to be de-listed from the London Stock Exchange.

With each passing season, the company's criminal behaviour has become worse, compounded by its serial lying and numerous refusals to comply with the law.

Vedanta has also chronically failed to observe fundamental duties of care owing to its workers and neighbouring communities.

This Easter weekend, we might be excused for paraphrasing words, purportedly uttered by England's King Henry II which prompted the murder of his adversary, Archbishhop Becket in 1170:

"Who will rid us of this meddlesome company?"

This time, we don't require four knights in armour for  the task.

Britain's new Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)could  carry it out - and relatively painlessly - at the stroke of a pen.

[London Calling is published by Nostromo Research. Opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily represent those of any other person or group. Reproduction is welcomed under a Creative Commons Licence].

Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board orders closure of Sterlite copper smelter

Times of India

31 March 2013

TUTICORIN: The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board on Saturday issued a closure notice to the controversy-dogged Sterlite copper smelting plant in Tuticorin, forcing it to shut down. The board's closure notice comes in the wake of "unsatisfactory" explanation to the show cause notice issued to the plant by district collector Ashish Kumar, after a suspected sulphur di-oxide leak from the plant on March 23.

Soon after receiving TNPCB's order, the district administration snapped power supply to the Sterlite plant. On Saturday morning, a team of officials led by Tuticorin revenue divisional officer Latha visited the plant and served the closure notice.

Sterlite authorities had initially resisted the closure move stating that the plant cannot be shut down all of a sudden and the controlling units could be switched off only in three phases. But after a strict warning to adhere to the closure notice, Sterlite authorities shut down all operations.

D Dhanavel, general manager, Sterlite, said the operations of the plant had been completely shut down. "We are discussing the next course of action,'' he said.

MDMK leader Vaiko, who has been staging a legal battle for shutting of the plant, has welcomed the closure and thanked chief minister J Jayalalithaa for the order. The closure of the plant sparked celebrations across Tuticorin as people distributed sweets and set off fireworks in Rajaji Park, the site of the massive protest on March 28.

But Sterlite has been maintaining that on March 23 when the gas leak incident happened, the company was shut down. "Our emissions were within permissible limits on March 23. There are no violations of pollution norms on our part," said a Sterlite spokesperson.

But district administration said the plant had exceeded permissible limits of sulphur di-oxide emissions. "Inspections by TNPCB officials has revealed sulphur dioxide emissions exceeding the Supreme Court stipulated levels from Sterlite,'' said collector Ashish Kumar. On March 23, following the gas leak, residents in and around the plant suffered irritation in the eyes, sore throat and suffocation.

The closure order has come at a time when the fate of the multi-crore plant is to be decided by the Supreme Court. The judgment on a case demanding permanent closure of Sterlite would be delivered on April 2. The plant was facing stiff protest from people even before it was commissioned in the port town in 1997. The plant also witnessed an industrial accident in its initial years.

In 1998, Vaiko filed a writ petition in the Madras high court seeking its closure. The high court gave an interim order to close the plant, but it was reopened in 1999. After a prolonged legal battle, the Madras high court ordered permanent closure of the plant in 2010, which was challenged by Sterlite in the Supreme Court.

It is not just MDMK that was staging a series of protests against the plant, but the traders led by influential Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sangam, environmental groups, fishermen and general public who wanted the unit to be closed. Beginning with the first protest in the form of a hunger strike on March 5, 1996, several rallies, road blockades, black flag protests and attempts to besiege the plant were staged.

The protests witnessed a surge after March 23, when the gas leak sparked panic. There was a near total shut down of trade outlets on March 28 when more than 1,500 people marched towards the plant to besiege it. Often the protests also spread to nearby Kovilpatti and Srivaikuntam towns.

Tamil Nadu copper smelting plant ordered to stop operations

Zee News India

30 March 2013

Chennai: The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) Friday ordered closure of the Sterlite Industries' copper smelting plant at Tuticorin with immediate effect, and power supply to the plant has been cut off, a company official said.

"The TNPCB issued the order to shut down the plant with immediate effect and the power utility yesterday (Friday) night disconnected the power supply to the plant. We are in the process of stopping the operations, an official told a news agency over phone from Tuticorin, 600 km from here.

The order comes after the leakage of noxious gas from the plant March 16, leading to nausea and skin irritation among a section of people.

Subsequently, there were protests and the district administration had ordered an inquiry into the incident.

An official of TNPCB in Tuticorin said the order was issued by his head office here. However, senior officials were not available for comments.

In 2010, the Madras High Court had ordered Sterlite Industries to shut down the copper smelting plant for violating environmental norms. However, the order was challenged by the company in the Supreme Court, which is expected to decide on the fate of the plant April 2.

Sterlite employees seek revival of plant

The Hindu

30 March 2013

A large number of employees and contract labourers of Sterlite Copper, Tuticorin approached the Pollution Control Board office in Sipcot area here on Saturday and submitted petition seeking revival of the company. According to the petition, approximately 3,000 employees working with Sterlite Copper would be adversely impacted with their livelihoods along with their families due to the closure of the unit.

More than 10, 000 families associated indirectly with Sterlite would also be affected severely. The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board should ponder over the difficulties of the workforce and reconsider its decision to continue operations in the unit in support of their livelihoods, the petition adds.

Activists hail order

Celebrating the shutdown order, those from the Anti-Sterlite Movement and various political party activists welcomed the government's decision. The event was marked by bursting crackers near Rajaji Park on Palayamkottai road, Tuticorin old bus station, Tuticorin old Corporation office and on Beach Road by fishermen associations.

Fathima Babu, convener, Veeranganai People's Movement, expressed joy over the move.

U. Natarajan, general secretary, Tuticorin Town Centralized Merchants Association, said it was a welcome relief for people and said the closure should be permanently effective.

Closure of many shops in Tuticorin town on March 28, when a mass protest demonstration led by MDMK's Vaiko here against Sterlite led to this impact, Mr. Natarajan, said.

S. Xavier Vas, president, Fishermen United Front, Tuticorin, hailed the closure and thanked the District Collector and other government authorities.

A. Subash Fernando, district secretary, National Forum for Environmental Protection, said an expert committee should be constituted to ascertain damages caused to marine wealth and farm lands from pollution emanated from Sterlite and the company had to extend compensations due to affected parties, necessarily.

R. Subramaniya Adhityan, President, Tuticorin Bar Association, said in support of public demands for closure of Sterlite, a resolution was passed unanimously at General Body meeting convened here on Thursday. It should be moved away from Tamil Nadu, he said. K.P. Perumal, district secretary, Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam, CPI (M), said cultivable lands in Saminatham, Kumarettiyapuram, Therkku Veerapandiapuram, Nainarpuram and Sillankulam turned infertile in the wake of the company's establishment.

The state unit of the CPI(M) on Saturday demanded permanent closure of the Sterlite factory in Tuticorin to ensure that water, air and environment were saved from a great disaster.

Supreme Court to decide fate of Sterlite's Tuticorin plant Tuesday

IANS News Agency

29 March 2013

New Delhi - The Supreme Court will Tuesday pronounce its verdict on the fate of the Sterlite Industries' copper smelting plant in Tamil Nadu's Tuticorin, which was ordered to halt its operations in 2010 by Madras High Court for violating environment norms.

The verdict will be pronounced by a bench of Justice AK Patnaik and Justice HL Gokhale.

Sterlite, which had described the high court order as "draconian", had told the apex court that it was a public limited company with 2.3 lakh shareholders, 1,100 employees, 2,500 people employed indirectly and an annual turn over of Rs.13,000 crore.

It said the company was meeting 50 percent of the domestic requirements of copper and was contributing Rs.1,600 crore by way of taxes.. Sterlite Industries was the largest manufacturer of copper in the country and even exported it, it added.

In the course of the hearing that was spread over several weeks, the apex court had asked the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to carry out detailed inspection of the plant and its site.

CPCB counsel Vijay Panjvani said Sterlite spent Rs150 crore for putting in place new pollution control devices to overcome the deficiencies in its pollution control measures as suggested to it by different agencies mandated to protect the environment.

The Madras High Court by its September 28, 2010, order had directed the immediate closure of the plant, nut the apex court, by its interim order of October 1, 2010, stayed its operation.

Besides the closure, the high court had also directed the payment of compensation to Sterlite's employees as per the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act.

Tuticorin's district collector was also directed to take all necessary and immediate steps for the re-employment of the workers in some other companies, factories or organizations.

Challenging the high court order, Sterlite Industries contended that it was passed on a PIL filed in 1994, pointing to then alleged deficiencies in the compliance of the statutory environmental provisions.

It said that though the hearing on the PIL was concluded in January 2010, it was eight months after on Sep 28, 2010, that the high court passed the order directing the immediate shut down of the company.

While ordering the plant's closure, the high court had noted that it was within 25 km of an ecologically fragile area.

Plea for closure of Sterlite facility

Staff Reporter

The Hindu

29 March 2013

Around 779 people, including Vaiko, general secretary, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, and R. Nallakannu, senior Communist Party of India leader, were arrested when they attempted to lay siege to Sterlite Copper facility here on Thursday.

The agitators raised slogans demanding closure of Sterlite Copper. Earlier, a demonstration was staged opposite Rajaji Park on Palayamkottai Road under the banner of People's Movement against Sterlite. Cutting across party lines, a large number cadre and members of various associations of traders, fishermen, lawyers and voluntary organisations took part in the agitation.

Spearheading the protest, Mr. Vaiko alleged that Sterlite Copper was causing pollution in the area. "The unit poses serious health hazards. Farm lands in its vicinity had become fallow, and marine flora and fauna have been adversely affected owing to pollution of land, water and air. The polluted lands surrounding the company for a 40-km radius will remain fallow even after 100 years," he said.

Citing the emission of noxious gas (sulphur dioxide) from the copper smelter in the early hours of March 23, Mr. Vaiko said that many people, including infants, got exposed to the gas in various parts of Tuticorin. They experienced suffocation, sneezing and burning sensation in eyes. Even green leaves in trees and indoor plants in houses had turned black. It had caused consternation among those who reside close to the unit, he said and made an appeal to the State government to close the copper plant in the best interests of people.

He levelled charges against the Collector, Superintendent of Police and Pollution Control Board officials, terming them "agents of Sterlite." Mr. Vaiko said that he had been pleading for the closure of the unit since 1996 through protests, hunger strikes, rallies, and closure of shops in Tuticorin. The MDMK leader said that he had attended 20 hearings against the Sterlite in the past two years and added that he expected the final verdict from the Supreme Court in April.

Mr. Nallakannu said that it was a do or die situation for the Tuticorin populace. A huge quantum of Tamiraparani water was being pumped by the Sterlite, thus leaving farmers in the lurch. The Central and State governments should intervene in this issue and close the company, he said.

A. Ganesha Murthi, MDMK MP, T. Vellaiayan, president, Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sangangalin Peravai, S. Joel, district secretary, MDMK, K.S. Arjunan, district secretary, CPI (M), A. Mohanraj, district secretary, CPI, representatives of Manithaneya Makkal Katchi among others took part in the agitation.

Shops remained closed in Tuticorin on Thursday.

Vedanta-Sterlite - Dangerous by Design

by Nityanand Jayaraman


28 March 2013

On 23 March, 2013, a toxic gas leak from Vedanta-subsidary Sterlite's copper smelter in Thoothukudi spread panic and discomfort for several kilometres around the plant. The leak once again highlighted the increased potential for major catastrophes due to an atmosphere of collusion between regulators and polluters.

The company, which was shut down for maintenance, resumed operations in the early hours of 23 March. Within hours, people in the nearby areas complained of suffocation and eye and nose irritation. A 35-year old Bihari contract labourer, who was working at Sterlite's thermal power plant nearly a kilometre away, reportedly succumbed to the effects of the toxic gas. Irate residents rallied to the District Collector's office demanding permanent closure of the offending factory.

The District Collector suggested that sulphur dioxide may have been the culprit. But anyone who knows the history of this plant would lay the blame not on this gas or that, but squarely on pliant regulators, and perhaps the judiciary.

The 1200 tonne per day (tpd) copper smelter was constructed in two phases - both with dubious legality - with active support of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) and the chairperson of the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee (SCMC). In September 2004, when SCMC visited Thoothukudi, it found that Sterlite had constructed a 900 tonne per day copper smelter complex without obtaining an Envirnomental Clearance from the MoEF. Neither did the plant have the mandatory Consents to Establish under Air and Water Acts.

Citing poor pollution management, the SCMC recommended that clearance should not be given. It ordered the TNPCB to verify the illegal constructions and take action. Contrary to recommendations, clearance was given a day after of the Committee's visit to Sterlite. TNPCB inspected and confirmed the illegal constructions, but did nothing more.

On 7 April, 2005, a director at the MoEF wrote to the chairperson of TNPCB urging her to grant a Consent to Operate to Sterlite. "The directions issued by SCMC in this regard has (sic) been discussed with Chairman, SCMC, who has desired that TNPCB may now decide regarding granting consent for expansion to M/s Sterlite Industries India Ltd (SIIL) Tuticorin, Tamilnadu," she wrote. The Air and Water Acts do not have any provision for legalising units constructed without a valid Consent to Establish. TNPCB obliged and issued a consent on 19 April 2005.

Sterlite went on to expand its capacity to 1200 tpd. To get its licenses, Sterlite exaggerated the extent of land in its possession. In 2007, Sterlite submitted an Environment Impact Assessment report that suggested that it had greened 26 hectares of its 102.5 hectare plant site. It claimed that it had sufficient lands - about 176 ha - in its possession to accommodate the expanded capacity and the resultant pollution (solid waste, air emission and effluents). It promised to plant 43 hectares with pollution-abating trees. Subsequent inspection reports by the TNPCB even state that the company had greened 25 percent of its 176 hectare land holding.

On 28 September 2010, the Madras High Court ordered closure of the copper plant. One key grounds for closure was the industry's failure to comply with the condition requiring the development of a 25 metre greenbelt around the factory. TNPCB was chided for arbitrarily reducing the greenbelt requirement from 250 metres to 25 metres in response to Sterlite's lament about high land costs associated with the wider belt.

The Madras High Court had rightly held that the failure to comply with greenbelt requirements was a crippling lapse. Indeed, had a thick belt existed, the effects of the recent gas leak would not have reached the city.

When Sterlite was shut down by the High Court, the factory was running without valid licenses under Air and Water Acts. Two days later, the Supreme Court stayed the High Court order and unwittingly authorised the unlicensed operation of a disputed facility.

In May 2011, Sterlite's non-compliance of greenbelt requirements and its land fraud came to light in a report submitted by NEERI to the Supreme Court. Against a requirement of 176 hectares for the 1200 tonne plant, Sterlite had only 102.5 hectares, the report found. Also, less than 13 hectares - as against 43 hectares - had been greened.

Since October 2010, Sterlite has functioned on leave granted by the Supreme Court. During the apex court's watch, at least 8 hazardous incidents were recorded where 3 workers were killed, four more injured. Several hundred people in the vicinity of the plant have been gassed.

Under the circumstances, faith in the rule of law is not an easy belief system to sustain.


Thoothukudi Gears up For Major Showdown with Sterlite

Reported by Nityanand Jayaraman

27 March, 2013

Thoothukudi -- Residents of the coastal Tamilnadu town of Thoothukudi are gearing up for a major showdown with Sterlite on 28 March, less than a week after a massive gas leak injured hundreds of people for kilometres around the company's controversial copper smelter.

Numerous groups, cutting across political lines, will march from the city to Sterlite's gates demanding its permanent closure. In the 20 years that it has functioned, Sterlite has been blamed for numerous mishaps, deaths and injuries. It has been closed twice by the Madras High Court, including in September 2010 when the High Court shut it down through its final order arguing that the company had violated siting setbacks, pollution norms and licence conditions.

Tomorrow's rally is gathering massive support as the Tamilnadu Federation of Merchants led by Vellian, and the Esakkimuthu Conch Divers Association have said they will participate in the strike. The call for the strike was originally given by Vaiko, a political leader of the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, who said that this was an issue that transcended politics, and that the residents are united in their desire to rid their city of Sterlite's Bhopal-like factory. Other prominent Thoothukudi-based workers organisations too have committed their support to the strike.

The Anna Bus Stand Taxi Drivers Association, and the Anna Bus Stand Auto Drivers Welfare Association with nearly 200 auto drivers as members have said they will boycott work and join the residents demanding closure of Sterlite. Many more organisations and political parties are expected to join.

"We are very angry. We have seen numerous such agitations start and then stop. We want an end to this nonsense. Sterlite must be shut down," said 55 year old M. Shanmugavelu, Presidents of the Auto workers Association.

34-year old M. Kishorekumar, who is the president of Taxi Drivers Association clarifies that they are not opposed to industries. "We want good industries to come to Thoothukudi, to Tamil Nadu. But Sterlite is not good for us. It is a dangerous factory. We have to think about our futures too," he says. "My 11-year old son suffered because of the gas leak. It is now three days since the leak, and he is still complaining of head ache, eye and throat irritation, a bitter taste in his mouth and has no appetite. I have had to take him to hospital for three days. He has to go to school with all this because it is examination time," Kishorekumar says.

The Sterlite factory is currently operating on leave granted by the Supreme Court, which issued an injunction on the Madras High Court order.

For more information, contact: Fatima Babu -- 9443404855

List of Hazardous Incidents at Sterlite Industries between October 2010 and March 2013 during the time the plant has run on leave granted by Hon'ble Supreme Court.

Compiled by Nityanand Jayaraman, based on reports by Sterlite workers

Total: 3 dead; several injured in 8 incidents

Date - Incident - Number Dead/Injured

8.3.2013 - Amalan, 30, sustained serious injuries after an electrical fire broke out at Motor Control Room of Phosphoric Acid Plant. - 1 injured

18.3.2013 - Swaminathan, 50, killed after falling into Phosphoric Acid tank. Due to the poor light conditions, the worker tripped on the scaffolding and fell 15 metres into an open and empty tank. - 1 dead

23.3.2013 - Massive gas leak, suspected to be Sulphur dioxide or trioxide, causes suffocation and panic around the Sterlite Copper plant. One Sterlite contract worker, Shailesh Mahadev, 35, reportedly succumbed to exposure to the gas. - 1 dead; several injured

23.8.2011 - One North Indian worker, sourced by labour contractor Lohit, and employed by Mahesh Engineering was injured while working in the Phosphoric Acid Plant. Workers, who said very little information was available about his condition and what actually happened. He is reported to have had 5 stitches. - 1 injured

17.8.2011 - A white gas (suspected to be Sulphur Dioxide) escaped for about 45 minutes at ground level throwing a scare among Sterlite workers, after a power outage caused a shutdown of the Copper smelter and sulphuric acid plant at around 10 a.m. today (17 August, 2011). The wind was blowing from East to West and carried the smoke away from the highway and the Milavittan village.

13.8.2011 - Thangapandi, a 32-year old contract worker, engaged by OEG Ltd to work in Sterlite's copper smelter factory sustained first degree burns due to an electrical accident. Thangapandi is a resident of Pandarampatti. - 1 injured

31.5.2011 - Amalanathan, a 28-year old crane maintenance mechanic, was electrocuted and killed in Vedanta-subsidiary Sterlite Copper's premises today. According to workers, Amalanathan died on the spot at around 11.30 a.m. As of 3.30 p.m., the police had not yet registered a First Information Report. According to a Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) party worker, it was only after the communist unions and MDMK intervened by staging a road blockade did the Police even enter the scene. Amalanathan, who was married barely 3 months ago, is a resident of a locality called 3rd Mile, near Sterlite. - 1 dead

3.3.2011 - Ratheesh, a young contract employee from Sterlite, sustained 30 to 35 percent burn injuries on chest and hand. He was admitted to Apollo Hospital, Madurai, and underwent treatment until 24.3.2011. Inpatient Number: 205688. Referred by Dr. Vanitha Stephen, Tuticorin. - 1 injured

Nityanand is a Chennai-based writer and environmental activist.

Noxious gas triggers scare in Thoothukudi

By Yazhiniyan

New Indian Express

24 March 2013

THOOTHUKUDI - A suspected leak of noxious gas from the Sterlite Industries plant in Thoothukudi caused nausea and skin irritation among a section of local residents here on Saturday.

While Sterlite officials denied any chemical leakage from the factory, Thoothukudi Collector Ashish Kumar said a preliminary inquiry revealed that Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) had leaked from the Sterlite plant. "I have directed the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) officials to undertake a detailed study and submit a report," Kumar told Express.

Early in the morning residents living in localities surrounding the Sterlite plant complained of irritation and nausea. Within no time, doctors began receiving patients in sizeable numbers. Doctors, paramedical staff and school children were seen wearing protective masks.

"Around 7 am, when I went for my walk, I experienced irritation on my skin and mouth. Since it was caused by air pollution, I suspected that gas must have leaked from the Sterlite plant," said Selvaraj, a contractor who has worked in chemical companies in Thoothukudi.

A resident of Sankarapuram, Rani, complained that due to the gas leak leaves in the trees had withered at Fathima Nagar and Sankarapuram and pointed to withered leaves in a drumstick tree at her house.

Rejecting the allegations, a Sterlite spokesperson claimed that the Sulphuric acid plant had been closed for two days and hence there was no possibility of SO2 leak.

"Another private industrial unit located nearby is also known to use a similar compound and the leak could have originated from there," he alleged.

However, some Sterlite workers claimed that the plant was operational at around 6.30 am and shortly thereafter it was shut down due to the leak.

Meanwhile, Collector Ashish Kumar said the SO2 leak was within the danger limit. "The preliminary report says the gas emitted was 70 Mg/lit cube as opposed to the danger limit of 80 Mg/lit cube," he said.

TNPCB officials inspected the Sterlite plant during the day and held elaborate discussion with Revenue and Health Department officials.

Environmental activist Nithyanand Jayaram recalled that the Madras High Court had ordered the closure of the Sterlite plant but the Supreme Court had granted a stay on the operation of the order in 2010.


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