Amid protests demanding closure of Vedanta’s Sterlite Copper unit in Tuticorin district, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) on Tuesday said it has rejected the company’s application seeking renewal of consent to operate the plant.
TNPC Board norms were not “properly fulfilled,” by Sterlite, Mohammed Nazimuddin, TNPCB chairman said in an official release.
The Board has, therefore, rejected Sterlite’s application seeking renewal of consent to operate its existing plant, it said.The consent to operate accorded previously by the Board ended on March 31, 2018.
The development comes after about a two month long protest by locals against Sterlite over pollution and resultant serious health hazards to the people.
In a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) on Tuesday, Vedanta said its application has been rejected for want of more clarifications. The company said it was evaluating a further course of action.
On March 27, the company had said as part of its regular maintenance programme, its smelting operations at Thoothukudi (Tuticorin) had undergone maintenance shutdown for about 15 days.
The company said the “scheduled maintenance activities were supposed to be for a period of approximately 15 days from the said date (March 27, 2018).”
It is now likely to be extended given the above development, the release said. “The company shall update further developments from time to time,” it added.
Residents of A Kumarareddiapuram village in Tuticorn district have been on a protest mode against the Sterlite plant for the last two months.
The protest was against both Sterlite’s expansion plan and its existing unit which found support from political parties, including the main opposition party, DMK .
On April 1, actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan had expressed solidarity with the protest against Sterlite.
“The expansion (of Sterlite Copper, a unit of Vedanta) should not at all be allowed…if possible it will be good to close down this (existing) unit,” he had said.
Recently, the state government had also said it was examining residents’ complaints against the unit.
A leading copper producer, Sterlite Copper represents the copper unit of Vedanta Limited, which operates a 400,000 tonnes per annum plant in Tuticorin.