TN seeks postponement of expert panel visit to Sterlite

Sterlite Copper, which maintains that its anti-effluent policies conform to global standards, moved the NGT against the order which resulted in the appointment of the expert committee. PTI file photo

Tamil Nadu’s pollution watchdog on Tuesday asked the committee appointed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to postpone its visit to Sterlite Copper plant in Tuticorin citing pendency of a case in this regard before the Supreme Court.

The expert committee comprising of former chief justice of Meghalaya High Court Tarun Agarwal and one representative from Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and Ministry of Environment and Forests had proposed to visit the plant owned by Vedanta Limited between September 22 and 24.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) had tasked the committee to visit the copper smelter and find out whether there were any environmental hazards involved due to the plant’s functioning. The panel was also expected to visit villages located close to Sterlite plant on the outskirts of Tuticorin and elicit the views of the villagers.

Replying to a letter written by the CPCB’s regional director in Bengaluru proposing that the committee would visit Tuticorin this weekend, D Sekar, the member-secretary of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), asked him not to go ahead with the visit.

“In this regard, I am to emphasis that the Government of Tamil Nadu has moved the Hon’ble Supreme Court and NGT, New Delhi about the maintainability of the NGT order,” he wrote in the letter.

Citing filing of review petition by the state government before the Supreme Court on September 14 against its order of refusing to grant a stay to the appointment of the committee, the member-secretary told the CPCB to postpone the visit since the matter was sub-judice.

“Therefore, the proposed visit of the committee may be cancelled,” he said.

The Tamil Nadu government had closed down Sterlite Copper on May 28 citing a report by the TNPCB that the plant was a pollutant in Tuticorin. The government’s decision came seven days after 13 people were killed in police firing during protests against the expansion of Sterlite Copper.

Sterlite Copper, which maintains that its anti-effluent policies conform to global standards, moved the NGT against the order which resulted in the appointment of the expert committee. However, the state government is pulling all stops to ensure that the plant is not opened.

Closing down of the plant has evoked a mixed response with many welcoming it and others pointing to the flip-side, increasing price of copper due to stoppage of production in Tuticorin.

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TN seeks postponement of expert panel visit to Sterlite

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