Thirteen civilians were killed in clashes with the police during the protest and over 200 others were maimed for life.
New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal on Thursday refused to stay the order issued by the Tamil Nadu government directing closure of the Sterlite industries at Toothukudi in Tamil Nadu.
A bench headed by acting chairperson Justice Jawad Rahim, however, issued notice to the Tamil Nadu government and the State Pollution Control Board seeking their response to the Sterlite petition challenging the closure order. The tribunal also allowed the state government to file its response questioning maintainability and posted the matter for further hearing on July 18.
On May 22, violence had broken out on the 100th day of the anti-Sterlite agitations after police opened fire on residents who were marching towards the district collector’s office. Thirteen civilians were killed in clashes with the police during the protest and over 200 others were maimed for life.
Following this, on May 28, the Tamil Nadu government directed the TNPCB to shut down the Sterlite Copper Smelter plant in Thoothukudi, “Under sections, 18(1)(b) of the Water Act, 1974 in the larger public interest, the government endorse the closure direction of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board and also direct the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board to seal the unit and close the plant permanently
At the outset senior advocates C.S. Vaidyanathan and Rakesh Diwedi, appearing for the Tamil Nadu government, questioned the maintainability of the petition by Vedanta on the ground that it had already filed an appeal before the appellate authority under the Water Act. The company cannot be allowed to have a parallel remedy when the adjudication is still pending.
Senior counsel Aryama Sundaram, Pinaki Misra and Rohini Musa, however, submitted that the closure order was illegal and it was passed without giving an opportunity the company.
In view of the sudden closure of the industry, over 1.50 lakh people, including the workers have been affected. When the plant was being operated without causing any pollution, counsel wondered why it was shut down suddenly.