HC halts construction at Sterlite's 2nd unit in Thoothukudi

HC halts construction at Sterlite's 2nd unit in Thoothukudi

The Madras High Court on Wednesday asked Sterlite Copper to immediately stop construction on the controversial second unit of the copper plant in Thoothukudi, protests against which turned bloody on Tuesday, claiming 11 lives.
 
The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court also directed the Union government to hold a public hearing on the Rs 2,500 crore expansion project of Sterlite Copper, a unit of Vedanta Limited, within four months before taking a call on granting necessary clearance for the plant.
 
The interim order by a division bench comprising Justice Sundar and Justice Anitha Sumanth came on a petition filed by a resident of the port town, R Fatima. 

The petition states that Sterlite Industries has renewed the environmental clearance, originally granted in 2009, in 2015 and 2016 by "misrepresenting the project location".
 
Fathima stated that the environmental clearance to Sterlite Industries for the second copper plant was granted without any public hearing, a prime requirement for the green signal to be accorded to any such project. 

The division bench said the decision on construction activities should be made by September and added that Sterlite should apply for a separate clearance for expansion and cannot use clearance granted for phase 1.
 
The interim relief came a day after 11 people were killed in police firing after protesters tried to breach barricades to march towards Thoothukudi Collectorate, defying prohibitory orders. 

The protests that began in mid-February ended on a violent note on Tuesday when the police used force to disperse the crowd.
 
Sterlite Industries had in 2014 announced plans to expand its factory in Thoothukudi at a whopping Rs 2,500 crore programme aimed at doubling copper manufacturing capacity and setting up two 80 MW power projects, at its copper smelter plant. 

The proposed expansion would allow Sterlite Copper to become Asia’s largest copper manufacturing facility at a single location. The plant’s current capacity is 4,00,000 tonnes a year and it employs more than 2,000 people.

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