Apex court backs pollution board’s powers: MDMK

Chennai, April 1 (IANS) The MDMK, in a statement here Monday, asserted that the Supreme Court has corroborated the powers of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to issue orders against polluting firms.

“The court said the judgment has already been written and it has been mentioned that the TNPCB has the powers to monitor the environment and has all powers to pass appropriate orders,” the statement said.

Counsel for TNPCB Rajeev Dhawan told the court that the board has ordered closure of the Vedanta Resources group’s Sterlite Industries (India) Ltd.’s 4,00,000-tonne per annum (tpa) copper smelter plant Friday, and he would like to submit a petition on that.

According to the statement, the apex court said that the judgment in the Sterlite case had been written ahead of the Holi holidays, and there is no need to submit a petition on the closure now.

Elaborating on the circumstances that led the TNPCB to order closure of the controversial copper smelter plant, the MDMK general secretary said on March 23 that there was a leak of sulphur di-oxide from the plant in Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu, causing people to suffer breathing problems.

Large numbers of people had protested against the pollution and demanded the plant’s closure.

The court said the judgment has already been written, and it has been mentioned that the TNPCB has the powers to monitor the environment, as also the power to pass appropriate orders.

Speaking to IANS over phone from New Delhi, V. Prakash, advocate for the National Trust for Clean Environment (NTCE), said: “The apex court is set to deliver the judgment on the case tomorrow morning (Tuesday). We are hoping for the best and we do not want another Bhopal gas leak-like tragedy.”

The Supreme Court is set to deliver its order on the fate of the copper smelter plant April 2, in an appeal by Sterlite against the 2010 Madras High Court’s order to shut the factory.

The NTCE and MDMK had filed petitions against Sterlite, on which the Madras High Court had delivered its judgment in 2010.

For the past 17 years, the MDMK has been fighting against the plant and Vaiko, the founder of the party, himself argued against the plant in the apex court.

From the start, the copper smelter plant was mired in controversy.

Originally the plant was planned in Maharastra and Goa but it faced severe opposition from the people of these states.

However, the AIADMK regime under J. Jayalalithaa gave a warm welcome to the project and allotted land at Tuticorin.

Ever since, the plant has been in the eye of a storm, with Vaiko leading a protest against the project and later filing a case.

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