Vedanta moves SC seeking permission to reopen its TN plant for oxygen production

New Delhi : The Vedanta group’s Sterlite copper on Thursday approached the Supreme Court seeking permission to reopen its plant in Tamil Nadu, saying the smelter’s oxygen plants can be utilised for medical Oxygen production for Covid-19 patients.

The company’s move comes three years after its controversial Tuticorin copper smelter was ordered shut by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB).

Senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for Vedanta Ltd, mentioned the matter before Chief Justice SA Bobde.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, on behalf of the Centre, backed the request of Vedanta, saying the country is in dire need of oxygen.

“Human lives are more important at this moment than environmental considerations”, the SG said. The CJI said that the matter will be heard tomorrow.

Vedanta said that the plant contains two oxygen plants with a combined production capacity of 1,050 tonnes of oxygen daily. In March 2018, Vedanta’s controversial Sterlite Copper plant has been closed after it failed to adhere to environmental norms.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) allowed the plant to resume operations in February 2019, while the Supreme Court set aside the ruling, compelling Vedanta to approach the Madras High Court first.

In August last year, the Madras High Court upheld the pollution board’s order of plant’s closure, after which Vedanta filed an application in the apex court claiming “forces were conspiring against the nation” by keeping Sterlite Copper shut.

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