Supreme Court stays order on Sterlite plant closure (Lead)

October 1st, 2010 - 9:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, Oct 1 (IANS) The Supreme Court Friday stayed till Oct 18 the Madras High Court order asking Sterlite Industries to shut down its copper smelter plant in Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu.

Sterlite Industries, part of the London-based Vedanta Resources, had moved the apex court Thursday against the order of the High Court, which Tuesday had ordered immediate shut down of the plant on environmental grounds.

The apex court bench of Justice R.V Raveendran and Justice H.L. Gokhale passed the stay order after Sterlite counsel C.A. Sundaram told the court that the High Court passed the order on a public interest litigation filed in 1996.

The matter will be listed for hearing Oct 18.

The company, in a special leave petition against the order, had claimed the high court did not give it a proper hearing and ignored its submissions.

“The Supreme Court has accepted our plea and stayed the Madras High Court’s order. The court has also permitted us to commence production,” said Iyer Sundar Raj, public relations head.

When contacted, G.Ramapriya, counsel for National Trust for Clean Environment, told IANS that her client might engage a lawyer to represent the case in the apex court.

“We are yet to get the certified copy of the Madras High Court judgement,” she added.

MDMK General Secretary Vaiko has filed a Caveat petition in the Supreme Court praying to be notified before passing of orders on any petition filed by Sterlite against the Madras High Court’s closure order.

Vaiko is one of the persons who had filed the writ petition in the Madras High Court against the environmental clearances issued to the plant. He had argued the case himself.

“Sterlite has filed the Special Leave Petition (SLP) in the apex court on Wednesday while Vaiko filed the Caveat Thursday. He will be notified by the court when the next hearing comes up, that is, Oct 18. Most probably Vaiko will be arguing the case himself,” G. Devadoss, secretary, Legal Wing MDMK, told IANS.

Sterlite has spent around Rs.500 crore on expansion of its Tuticorin plant.

Last year, Sterlite had announced additional investment to double its copper smelter capacity to 800,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) and setting up of a 160 MW captive power plant at Tuticorin, around 580 km from here, to be commissioned next year.

“The total expansion outlay is Rs.3,000 crore (Rs.2,400 crore for expanding the copper smelter and associated plants and Rs.600 crore for power project). Till date Rs.500 crore has been invested for the expansion project,” Raj said.

The expansion, according to Chairman Anil Agarwal, is “to reduce our costs and put us amongst the lowest quartile cost custom smelters in the world.”

Sterlite’s copper business comprises smelting and processing of copper and production of by-products. The operations include a smelter, refinery, phosphoric acid plant, sulphuric acid plant and copper rod plant.

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