TNPCB rejects Sterlite’s application to reopen plant

TNPCB rejects Sterlite’s application to reopen plant

Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) on Wednesday said it has decided not to consider Sterlite Copper’s application for Consent to Operate (CTO) its Thoothukudi plant since the state government has appealed against order of the NGT in Supreme Court.

Vedanta-owned Sterlite had approached the TNPCB on December 17 seeking fresh CTO for entry into the plant after the National Green Tribunal struck down the Tamil Nadu government order shutting down the plant permanently for violating norms.

Shambhu Kallolikar, Principal Secretary & Chairman, TNPCB, wrote to the Associate Vice-President of Sterlite Copper on Wednesday conveying the decision not to consider the request. The letter came just hours after the Tamil Nadu government knocked at the Supreme Court filing an appeal against the NGT order.

Sterlite Copper, in its application, had sought issue of renewal of consent, to open the seal of the premises, restore electricity supply and provide immediate access to the plant for carrying out urgent care and maintenance.

“The Tamil Nadu Government and Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board have filed an appeal before the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India on 2. 1. 2019 vide Diary No.05-2019 challenging the orders of the Hon'ble National Green Tribunal, Principal Bench dated 15.12.2018. Hence, your request for the issue of Authorisation under Hazardous Wastes Rules maintenance cannot be considered,” Kallolikar said in his letter.

The move by TNPCB was expected since the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court had ordered status quo till January 21.

The 40-page order by the bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel tore into the Tamil Nadu government for closing the plant by blindly endorsing the views of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB). While imposing a slew of conditions like monitoring the ground water regularly, the Bench directed the TNPCB to pass fresh order of renewal of consent within three weeks.

The bench relied heavily on the findings of the committee it had appointed headed by former Meghalaya High Court Chief Justice Tarun Agrawal. The committee had visited the plant in Thoothukudi and had received representations from various organisations, traders’ associations and general public in the port city and Chennai.

The panel among other things also noted that no notice was issued, or opportunity of hearing was given to Vedanta before the closure of the plant.