Experts panel on Sterlite’s smelter plant to submit report April 29

Chennai, April 18 (IANS) The National Green Tribunal Thursday set up an experts committee headed by P.S.T. Sai, professor at Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, to inspect the controversial copper smelter plant of Sterlite Industries in Tuticorin and submit its report April 29.

The tribunal was hearing an appeal from Sterlite Industries against the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board’s (TNPCB) order to shut down the plant in Tuticorin, around 650 km from here, for leakage of sulphur dioxide last month.

“The tribunal has set up a committee headed by Sai with three other members. The committee will have to submit its report April 29,” D. Nagasaila, counsel for Fathima Babu, one of the respondents in the case, told IANS.

The committee will inspect various equipments in the copper smelter plant that Sterlite will run for it and not for commercial production.

The TNPCB had March 30 ordered closure of the 400,000-tonne per annum smelter plant after sulphur-di-oxide leaked from the plant March 23, affecting a large number of residents of Tuticorin.

Sterlite has appealed against the closure order before the tribunal.

The Supreme Court April 2, setting aside an earlier Madras High Court order, allowed Sterlite’s copper smelting plant to continue operations, but asked it to deposit Rs.100 crore with the authorities to make amends for the environmental damage caused from 1997 to 2012.

Pointing to the various violations of environmental norms, the court said: “For such damages caused to the environment from 1997 to 2012 and for operating the plant without a valid renewal (of licence) for a fairly long period, the appellant-company obviously is liable to compensate by paying damages.”

The company is part of UK-based Vedanta Resources Group.

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