The Madras High Court on Tuesday ordered closure of Sterlite Industries' copper smelting plant at Tuticorin after noting that the company has failed to comply with environmental issues.
Below is an article from in.news.yahoo.com
, which gives a breif picture about the company since its establishment.
"The Tuticorin smelter has been operating for more than 12 years and has been in compliance with necessary rules and regulations. It deploys ISASmelt process which is considered globally as an environmentally advanced technology. The company is one the largest in Tamil Nadu, employing around 3,000 people and also providing indirect employment. It contributes about Rs 1,600 crore to the exchequer annually," a release stated.
The copper smelter unit of the mining and metal processing giant, had been in the eye of a storm since its inception in 1997, when the company was forced to relocate the factory to Tamil Nadu following protests in Ratnagiri, Maharashtra, where the plant was initially planned to be set up. Compounding the company's problems, there were a string of incidents including an alleged gas leak in the factory in July, 1997, that affected about 100 people in the vicinity and a blast next month that killed two workers.
The local public has been agitating against the Sterlite plant in Thoothukudi for quite some time, simultaneously moving the court seeking the closure of the factory on environmental grounds.
A high court-appointed committee had in 1998 recommended the closure of the factory on the grounds that the approvals from both central and state agencies were granted in contravention of statutory requirements, and obtained based on inadequately prepared environmental impact assessment.
Accepting the recommendation, the First Bench had ordered its closure in November 1998, though it revoked its order a month later on an experimental basis under certain conditions after considering all sides of the case. However, while the cases went on in the courts, the company went on expanding the smelter capacity at least twice to ramp up the production capacity to 400 kilo tonnes a year.
An article in profit.ndtv.com
A Division Bench of Justices Elipe Dharmaro and N Paul Vasanthakumar held that the plant was within 25 km of an ecologically fragile area and the company has failed to develop a green belt of 250 metre width around the plant.
The judges also noted that the plant was set up amid protests from people of different sections at Tuticorin and widespread agitations to stop its erection and subsequently insisting on its closure. The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) had granted permission to Sterlite to run a unit to manufacture 391 MT of blister copper and 1,060 tonnes of sulphuric acid.
The court pointed out that no objection certificate was issued by TNPCB to the company on the condition that it would develop a green belt of 250 metre width around the 'battery limits' of the industry.
"But the company has submitted a representation to the TNPCB requesting to reduce the requirement of green belt from 250 metre to the width of 10-15 metre around the plant, since the development of the green belt of 250 meter width requires a land of around 150 acres," the bench said. Accepting the company's request, TNPCB relaxed the condition and required the company to develop the green belt in a minimum width of 25 metre, the bench noted.
The court in its order also directed the Tuticorin District Collector to take necessary steps for re-employment of the workforce in some other companies so as to protect their livelihood, to the extent possible, keeping in view their educational and technical qualifications and experience.