The plea filed by Vedanta challenging the closure of its Sterlite copper plant at Thoothukudi stands dismissed by the Madras High Court.
The judgement was pronounced this morning by a Division Bench of Justice TS Sivagnanam and Bhuvani Subbaroyan. Orders in these matters were reserved in January this year.
The Tamil Nadu State Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) closed down Vedanta’s Sterlite copper plant in Toothukudi in 2018, citing violation of environmental laws. Thereafter, the closure order was passed with immediate effect after the plant turned into a protest area providing opposition to the expansion plan of the plant. The State government further endorsed its support within a week.
In December 2018 the NGT had passed an order for reopening of the plant. Contrary to the NGT’s order, the Supreme Court in February 2019, set aside the order citing the criteria of non-applicability of jurisdiction of the NGT. Thereafter, Vedanta was allowed to move to the High Court against the orders passed against it giving rise to the present plea in question.
Over brief periods of time, the matter was set before different benches. After a repeated change of benches, the matter rested in front of the present Bench of Justice Sivagnanam and Subbaroyan on December 16, 2019. Arguments by the plaintiff were concluded in December and the defendant (the State and intervenors including the local residents) concluded their arguments in the first week of January. Concluding both the arguments and counter-arguments, orders were reserved in the matter on January 8. Thus, the Court dismissed the plea and also refused to recognize a request made by Senior Advocate Aryama Sundaram on behalf of Vedanta to maintain status quo for a few weeks.