Companies

National Green Tribunal asks Sterlite Copper to halt operations

Our Bureau Chennai | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on April 12, 2013

Under watch: The Sterlite Copper plant at Tuticorin.

Experts to study emission safety systems, report likely by April 29

The National Green Tribunal Southern Zone has said an expert committee will assess Sterlite Copper plant’s emission safety systems in Tuticorin and submit a report to it.

Justice M. Chockalingam passed the interim order on an appeal filed by Sterlite Industries Ltd against the closure order issued against it by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board on March 29.

The Vedanta Group company’s smelting unit which produces about four lakh tonnes annually was shut down on March 30.

The closure order followed complaints from the public of gas leakage, excessive emission of sulphur dioxide, on March 23.

Residents in parts of Tuticorin had complained of eye and throat irritation and discomfort, according to the Pollution Control Board, which issued a show- cause notice on March 24. The company had responded to it on March 27 and 28.

Hearing the company’s appeal No. 22 of 2013(SZ), the Tribunal ordered that two experts, and one representative each from Sterlite Industries and the Pollution Control Board to assist the experts, will assess the emission systems and submit a report to it by April 29, when the hearing will continue.

The names of the experts will be announced on April 18.

In the interim order, the Judge said the company should not commence commercial production but will restart the systems specifically for the expert committee to assess the working of the emission safety equipment and processes. The unit will be shut down after the inspection.

The Tribunal feels it is ‘fit and proper’ to appoint the expert committee to ‘assess and apprise’ it of the working conditions of the emission protection systems relating to sulphur dioxide.

The company has categorically denied there had been any excess emissions but the respondents, including the Pollution Control Board, had contended that the machinery and instruments in the plant are not in proper working order leading to the excess emission and hazard to the public. The respondents maintain the emissions violated the provisions of Section 21 of the Air Act, the Judge said.

The other respondents included Vaiko, General-Secretary of the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam; and Fatima Babu, a resident and activist in Tuticorin; and an NGO, the National Trust for Clean Environment.

Advocate-General A.L. Somayaji will appear before the Tribunal on April 18 on behalf of the Pollution Control Board and the Tamil Nadu Government.

>balaji.ar@thehindu.co.in

Published on April 12, 2013
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