In October last year, the Madras High Court ordered Sterlite Industries – a subsidiary of UK-listed Vedanta Resources – to cease operating its Tuticorin (Thoothukudi) copper smelter in Tamil Nadu. Local citizen environmentalists had provided compelling evidence that the company was willfully violating pollution control regulations.
The closure never occurred. In early 2011 the company went to the country’s Supreme Court and successfully argued for a “stay of execution” while further evidence was being gathered.
Last month, after touring the plant, a team convened by NEERI (one of India’s leading scientific institutes), confirmed some of the allegations made by the litigants.
The Supreme Court has now directed the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to file an application, specifying the polluting materials illegally released from the plant, and propose ways of checking emissions in and around the factory.