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SC won’t recall order refusing Vedanta plea to reopen Sterlite plant (Lead)

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New Delhi, Jan 22 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Friday declined to entertain a plea by Vedanta seeking recall of its December 2 order, where it had declined to entertain an interim plea by the mining major to inspect and operate its Sterlite Copper unit in Tamil Nadu’s Tuticorin.

The Tamil Nadu government had filed a special leave petition (SLP) in the top court to expunge certain remarks in the Madras High Court order. Vedanta was on caveat in this matter.

As a bench headed by Justice R. F. Nariman and comprising Justices Navin Sinha and K.M. Joseph admitted the state government SLP and tagged it with the main matter, Vedanta’s counsel orally also requested to the bench to consider recalling its December 2 order.

The bench orally declined to entertain this plea.

Additionally, the counsel for the mining major also requested the top court for an early hearing on its appeal against the Madras High Court order, which declined to allow the reopening of its Tuticorin plant. The bench declined to entertain this plea too.

On December 2, the Supreme Court had declined to entertain an interim plea by Vedanta Ltd seeking permission to inspect and operate Sterlite Copper unit at Tuticorin for four weeks to assess the pollution level. The plant was closed in May 2018.

Senior advocate A.M. Singhvi, appearing for the company, had submitted that Vedanta is producing 36 per cent of the copper demand of the country and it is a case of mala fide closure of the plant. Vedanta sought handing over of the plant for three months, where two months would be needed to start the unit, and in order to find out whether the plant is polluting, the company should be allowed to run it for four weeks.

The Tamil Nadu government objected to these submissions and submitted before the top court that the plant has been polluting consistently. But, Singhvi contended the court should allow the company to run the plant, which would help in ascertain whether the plant is polluting beyond the acceptable limit.

Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, representing some villagers in the vicinity of the plant, had submitted the unit should not be allowed to operate, as it is contaminating the water and people are suffering from diseases like cancer.

After a detailed hearing in the matter, the bench in its order had said that “having heard Abhishek Manu Singhvi, C.S. Vaidyanathan, K.V. Viswanathan and Colin Gonsalves, all senior advocates, for some time, we are of the view that the relief(s) in this IA cannot be granted. Accordingly, this IA is dismissed.”

However, the top court said the main matter, the appeal against the High Court order, can come up for hearing after physical hearing resumes in the top court.

Vedanta had moved the top court in August against the Madras High Court order declining to allow the reopening of the Tuticorin plant as it upheld the orders of Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), which directed the closure of the plant in May 2018.




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