Vedanta goes to Supreme Court to re-open the Sterlite copper plant in Thoothukudi!

A week after the Madras High Court held the order of the Tamil Nadu government and refused to re-open the Sterlite Copper plant in Thoothukudi that was shut in May 2018, Vedanta Limited, which owns the plant, had moved its petition to the Supreme Court on Wednesday to challenge the order of the Madras High Court against the re-opening of the copper plant. 

The copper plant in the coastal district of Tamil Nadu has been under the public scrutiny and the establishment was largely opposed by the people and the political parties for the threat that it posed for the environment and livelihoods of people living around the plant and local residents and activists have been fighting against the plant for over two decades for its posture of negating to adhere to the environmental norms. 

The voices of people had turned into strong protests in 2018 when the copper plant has mulled to expand its territory. The local people had held protests against the plant and demanded the government to shut down the establishment by alleging that the plant has been polluting the environment of the district and in May 2018, when the protests escalated, the Tamil Nadu police had carried out shooting and killed 13 people including a woman student by citing that the protests had turned into riots. 


Following the shooting, the Tamil Nadu government had met with massive outrage across the state and in the same month, the government has ordered to close the copper plant and sealed off the premises by halting its operations by stating that it has been polluting the environment. After the shutdown, Vedanta moved its petition to the Madras High Court to challenge the government's order of closing the unit. 

The Madras High court had held a marathon hearing of the case and reserved its verdict in January 2020. On August 18, the high court had pronounced its verdict in which it had upheld the decision of the Tamil Nadu government in closing the copper plant in May 2018. In the 815-page verdict, the High Court bench said that the state government had passed the order after the violation of the pollution control laws and the bench had dismissed ten writ petitions filed by Vedanta Limited. 

As the High Court had refused to re-open the plant, the company said that it would challenge the High Court's order in the Supreme Court and as announced, Vedanta had, on Wednesday, moved its petition to the Supreme court seeking the directive from the apex judicial body to re-open its copper smelting plant in Thoothukudi. The company has denied the accusations of violating the pollution control norms. 

The development has come when the Tamil Nadu government has already moved its caveat in the case to the Supreme Court on August 19, with the view that Vedanta would move to the Supreme Court. Caveat petition means the court should not issue any directives without informing the opposite party in the case, and in this case, the opposition party is the Tamil Nadu government.