NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain a petition filed by Sterlite Copper, a Vedanta group firm, seeking access to its closed smelter plant in Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu for carrying out maintenance activities.
The company also challenged the Madras High Court order that declined to give an early hearing on its interim application and the main petitions relating to the Tamil Nadu State Pollution Control Board’s (TNPCB) order to shut down the plant.
“We are not here to control the High Court,” a Bench, headed by Justice RF Nariman, said, after which the firm withdrew its plea.
The company was ordered to shut its plant after 13 people, protesting against the pollution allegedly caused by the plant, died in a police firing in May last year. Vendanta had denied the allegations that its plant caused pollution. Sterlite , in its plea in the apex court, said that its “intention was solely to preserve its assets” and for such purpose alone, commence repair and maintenance activities. It added that lack of maintenance of assets there has resulted in a loss of over ₹ 100 crore to the company.
Sterlite said the value of the Tuticorin plant was around Rs. 3,000 crore and if the High Court did not eventually allow it to restart operations it would need to transport and assemble equipment to another location.
The High Court On March 27 adjourned the matter till April 23. Sterlite, in its petition filed before the High Court, challenged the TNPCB’s May 23, 2018 order denying renewal of consent to the plant as well as permanent closure, terming them as wholly illegal, unconstitutional and ultra vires.