Sterlite will soon appeal in the Supreme Court against the Madras High Court order on Tuesday declining permission for the company to reopen its plant at Thoothukudi, the company’s CEO Pankaj Kumar told BusinessLine.
The verdict has come as a shock to the employees of Sterlite Copper and the thousands of small businesses, entrepreneurs and community members dependent on our continued operations, he said in a statement following the court order.
“We firmly believe in the safe and environmentally sound nature of our operations and are discouraged by the wilful reliance on anecdotal evidence and half-truths by certain parties to spread falsehoods against our operations. It is also disheartening to note that at a time when our nation is forced to depend on hostile neighbours for copper imports, certain forces are conspiring to stifle our nation’s ability to be an independent copper manufacturer. At no point in our operations were any concerns of pollution raised by the appropriate authorities,” he said.
In a major setback to Sterlite, the Madras High Court on Tuesday ruled that the company’s factory at Thoothukudi would remain shut.
Justices TS Sivagnanam and V Bhavani Subbaroyan, in an 815-page judgement, disposed of a batch of cases filed by Vedanta Limited to reopen its Sterlite copper smelting plant.
The plant was shut since April 9, 2018, after the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) refused to grant consent to operate (CTO) the plant due to environmental concerns. In May 2018, the TNPCB ordered closure of the plant permanently after 13 anti-Sterlite protestors died in police firing on May 22.
In January 2020, the Bench reserved orders in a plea filed by Vedanta in March 2019 challenging the closure of its plant. Since June 2019, the Bench heard marathon arguments, over 36 days, by a battery of lawyers appearing for various parties.
The judges refused to order status quo until Vedanta goes on appeal to the Supreme Court.