In a victory for the Tamil Nadu Government, the Supreme Court on Monday set aside the order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), which permitted the re-opening of the Vedanta-Sterlite plant at Tuticorin.
In April last year, the Tamil Nadu State Pollution Control Board (PCB) had declined to renew the plant's Consent to Operate certificate for failing to adhere to the prescribed conditions. Subsequently, the Forests and Environment Department of the state government had on May 28 directed the permanent closure of the plant.
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This action of TN Government was set aside by NGT on December 15, directing the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board to pass a fresh order of renewal of consent and authorisation to handle hazardous substances.
The green court also directed restoration of electricity for its operations. Setting aside these directions on appeal by TN Government, the Supreme Court bench of Justices R F Nariman and Naveen Sinha held that the NGT had no jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
The parties are given liberty to approach the Madras High Court.
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The plant at Tuticorin had become the centre of controversy during May-June last year, with local protests intensifying against its operations. On May 22, 2018, the police opened fire at a group of nearly 20,000 protesters, killing three persons including a 17-year-old student, and injuring several others.