File photo of Vedanta logo (Image : Reuters)
The verdict was set to be delivered in March this year but got delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Madras High Court on Tuesday said the Sterlite copper plant in Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukudi district will continue to remain shut and dismissed all petitions filed by Vedanta group for its reopening.
The verdict was set to be delivered in March this year but got delayed due to the pandemic. Justices TS Saivagnanam and V Bhavani Subbaroyan of Madras High Court refused to order status quo until Vedanta, which owns Sterlite Copper, filed an appeal in the Supreme Court.
All political parties, including the ruling AIADMK and the DMK, welcomed the court order.
Meanwhile. Vedanta group said it will take legal routes to fight the case. “The verdict comes as an utter shock to the employees of Sterlite Copper and the thousands of small businesses, entrepreneurs and community members dependent on our continued operations. We firmly believe in the safe and environmentally sound nature of our operations and are discouraged by the wilful reliance on anecdotal evidence and half-truths by certain parties to spread falsehoods against our operations,” said Pankaj Kumar, CEO, Sterlite Copper.
“It is also disheartening to note that at a time when our nation is forced to depend on hostile neighbours for copper imports, certain forces are conspiring to stifle our nation’s ability to be an independent copper manufacturer. At no point in our operations were any concerns of pollution raised by the appropriate authorities. We will therefore be pursuing all available legal remedies in the pursuit of justice over the coming days,” added Kumar.
Sterlite copper plant has been shut since April 2018.
In May 2018, peaceful protests in Thoothukudi turned violent. The police force opened fire at a massive rally marking a hundred days of protest against the operations of a copper smelter owned by billionaire Anil Agarwal. With the death of 13 people and several others wounded, the shooting shook the national consciousness and pivoted debates around need-based manufacturing.
The Anil Agarwal-owned Vedanta has vigorously contested the closure of the factory. The Edappadi K Palaniswami government, relatively new in terms of months at the office in 2018, had hurriedly shuttered the factory five days after the police firing. The company has since then been fighting it legally, engaging a battery of lawyers, some of whom command great respect in the country’s legal fraternity.
For now, anti-sterlite protesters are celebrating as the factory will continue to remain shut.