Sterlite case: Supreme Court suggests expert panel to explore restart of Vedanta’s Tamil Nadu copper smelter plant

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday proposed a committee to explore the possibility of restarting operations at Sterlite Plant in Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukudi district.

The court observed that national interest can’t be overlooked and there are few copper smelters in India, and the nation should not lose this asset.

In 2018, a massive public protest was held in Thoothukudi against the Sterlite copper plant which had been operating for 22 years alleging that it the causing environmental pollution in the locality. This anti-strike protest turned deadly after police opened fire to control the crowd, leading to the death of 13 people in the firing. Subsequently, this plant was closed on May 28, 2018.

Challenging the closure of the Sterlite plant, the Vedanta Group approached the Supreme Court seeking an order to lift the stay order and reopen the plant. The case came up for hearing again today before the Chief Justice bench of the Supreme Court.

Vedanta argued that many people have lost their jobs due to the closure of the Sterlite plant and re-opening the plant would create employment opportunities for around 10,000 people. Advocate Shyam Dewan appeared for Vedanta and presented arguments.

He said that the area of ​​Thoothukudi SIPCOT is about 1,800 acres, out of which Sterlite is operating on 1,000 acres and 67 companies are operating on the campus, out of which 27 companies are classified in the ‘Red category.’ However, no action has been taken against other companies in the red category and the action was taken only against the Sterlite plant.

Vedanta has argued that the Sterlite plant produced 36 percent of India’s total copper production in 2018 that the Sterlite plant was operating with a production capacity of 1700 tonnes of copper per day and that the allegations against them are untrue.

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