Vedanta Instructed To Stop Construction of Unit-2 of Sterlite Copper Plant By Madras High Court

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Unit 2 of Sterlite Copper plant of Vedanta faces a major hurdle after Madras High Court directed Vedanta to stop the construction of the same. The said unit is located in Thoothukudi in south Tamil Nadu.

Facts of the Case

It is being reported that ten persons were killed by police fire during a massive rally which was taken out demanding the closure of unit over pollution. The protests were being carried out for past three months in Tuticorin for over 3 months but turned violent on Tuesday which prompted police to open fire. A Public Interest Litigation was filed by R.Fatima of Thoothukudi in front of Madurai Bench of the Chennai High Court. PIL was filed against the application for renewal of environmental clearance for the suggested second plant. It is estimated that a second plant would almost double the copper refining capacity of Vedanta to 800,000 tonnes. The petition further included that company got clearance in 2009 which was renewed in 2015 and 2016 by misrepresented the project location being within a notified industrial complex to get environment clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests for the second copper smelting plant in 2009. Environmental clearance was given without a public hearing. Proposed copper smelter plant was actually commissioned in SLIPCOT Industrial Estate Phase 2 which has not been granted any clearance from the authorities till date. The petitioner prayed for quashing of environment clearance granted by both the Centre and State and an injunction against commissioning of the second copper plant as they clearly violated the provisions of Environmental Protection Act 1986.

The Decision Of The Case

Division Bench consisting of Justice Anitha Sumanth and Justice M Sundar passed an order directing Vedanta to cease construction of unit 2 of Sterlite copper plant. The order comes after 10 people were killed and many were injured in police firing at a massive rally taken out against Vedanta group seeking closure of the copper smelting plant because the unit was polluting the environment. Division bench also directed centre to hold a public hearing before granting environment clearance to the plant within four months from now, on or before September 23, 2018.

Meanwhile Center on Wednesday asked the Tamil Nadu government to provide details of the incident at Tuticorin. An official of Union Home Ministry said that the ministry is in touch with the state government over developments in the port town in the southern state. Ripples of this incident could also be felt in the stock market as shares of Vedanta fell 6% and stock further lost 5.80 %.

Learning Of The Case

From this case, we learn that a for environmental clearance a public hearing should be held and social events can also affect the share and stock prices.

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