With the statement given by Vedanta’s Chairman Anil Agarwal to press on March 23 stating that the ‘plant will open soon, is closed for maintenance’ is a clear indication that Sterlite copper will turn every stone it takes to get back to work. The casual attitude of Agarwal is the result of our government’s and judiciary’s inefficient to control mining giants like him who are not only destroying our environment but have been illegally expanding their venture ahead.
For Sterlite Copper the closure is not the first time, they have dealt with this earlier too and have also got out of it without dirt.
Yes, it happened in 1998
The factory was closed for the first time on November 23, 1998 – two years after establishment by the Madras High Court on the study carried out by the Nagpur based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) acting under directions by the Madras High Court which was hearing a case filed by National Trust for Clean Environment in 1996, against Sterlite. The closure was short lived and the factory starting re- running a week later when the Madras High Court modified its earlier order and further instructing NEERI to conduct another study.
According to the study finding Sterlite had failed to develop any greenbelt, which it was supposed to for the area 25 Km around the factory, the bases on which it was given clearance by Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board. The plant was located 14 Km from the Gulf of Mannar, thereby violating the yet another condition laid out in the Consent to Establish. It was also found that Sterlite was producing products it was not authorised to; also that it had contaminated the groundwater with arsenic, lead, selenium, arsenic, aluminium, and copper.
Yet again but short lived
On September 28, 2010, the Madras High Court ordred the closure of the plant for violating laws and polluting environment, in the 1996 case filed by National Trust for Clean Environment, V Gopalasamy, and others. Like before, three days after the order on October 1, the supreme court gave a stay order on Madras High Court’s order of closure.
Rowing the third time
On March 29, 2013, a closure order was given citing violation of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, six days after the incident of gas leak which chocked the city of Tuticorin. The plant was shut down on March 30, 2013, but the decision was again revoked by the Supreme Court when the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board was not able to establish that the gas leak was from Sterlite and yet again the plant was opened on June 10, 2013.
‘ Sterlite Copper Closed’
The fourth and the recent closure is ordered by The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) with immediate effect on May 24, 2018. It took 10 days of anti- sterlite protest, 13 were killed and 102 people being injured for the board to reach this decision. In order that the plant does not operate under any circumstances, the power supply is also disconnected for this purpose.
Source media reports of the Hindu and the New Indian Express
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