Sterlite row: Land allotted for Vedanta company cancelled
A day after issuing a Government Order (GO) permanently closing down and sealing the Sterlite Copper Smelter Plant at Tuticorin, the Tamil Nadu government on Tuesday cancelled the allotment of 342.22 acres of land to Vedanta Limited, which owns the plant.
In a letter to M/s Vedanta Limited, the State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu Limited (SIPCOT) said that there have been a series of agitations and protest against the establishment of Copper Smelter Plant Phase-II, expressing concerns about the pollution caused by the existing plant of the Vedanta Limited.
“The people of the area have also been raising concerns about their health on account of the operations of the plant,” it said. As the allotment of the land for the proposed expansion has been made by SIPCOT, in larger public interest, the land allotment made for the proposed expansion of Copper Smelter Plant Phase-II by M/s Vedanta Limited is hereby cancelled, it said.
“The land price collected for the said land allotment will be refunded as per the norms of SIPTCOT,” the letter signed by the SIPCOT Managing Director said. The state government issued a GO ordering a permanent closure of the plant on Monday following which it was sealed by the district authorities.
The GO issued by Environment and Forests Department said it was brought to the notice of the government that the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) did not renew the Consent to Operate to M/S Vedanta Limited, Copper Smelter Plant in its April 9, 2018 order.
Subsequently, on May 23, TNPCB has also issued directions for closure and disconnection of power supply to the Unit. The power supply was disconnected on May 24.
“In the larger public interest, under Sections, 18 (1) (b) of Water (Prevention and Control Pollution) Act, 1974, the Government endorsed the closure direction of the TNPCB and also directed the Board to seal the unit and close the plant permanently,” it said.
Justifying the move, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami said the people of Thoothukudi had been opposing the operation of the plant and were demanding its permanent closure as it had violated the environment norms set by the National Green Tribunal and the TNPCB.
Thirteen people were killed and 102 people, including police personnel, were injured on May 22 after the protesters clashed with the police, resulting in arson and violence and police firing after the 100-day long anti-Sterlite protests turned violent.
The Opposition parties, especially the DMK, had been demanding the resignation of Palaniswami and asked him to take the moral responsibility for the police firing.