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NGO seeks early hearing in SC on plea against closure of Sterlite copper unit in Tamil Nadu

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New Delhi, Jan 8 (PTI) An NGO on Monday urged the Supreme Court to urgently hear a plea related to the closure of Vedanta group's Sterlite copper unit in Tamil Nadu's Tuticorin, saying workers of the firm are facing extreme difficulties.

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A bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra took note of the submissions of senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for 'Manu Neethi Foundation', that the plea related to the closure of the plant required early disposal.

Singh said the recent floods have adversely impacted Tuticorin's already strained economy.

The CJI assured the senior lawyer that the plea will be heard on February 13 and 14.

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At least 13 people were killed and many injured on May 22, 2018, when police opened fire on a huge crowd of people protesting against pollution allegedly caused by the copper smelting unit.

The Tamil Nadu government had on May 28, 2018, ordered the state pollution control board to seal and "permanently" close the mining group's plant following violent protests over pollution concerns.

On January 2 this year, the top court had agreed to consider hearing Vedanta group's plea seeking reopening of its closed Sterlite copper unit in Tuticorin.

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Prior to this, the bench had said it has directed the apex court registrar to allocate "two dedicated dates" for hearing the Vedanta group's plea.

The top court had in May last year asked the Tamil Nadu government to take appropriate decisions in pursuance of its April 10 direction by which it had allowed the Vedanta group to carry out the upkeep of its Sterlite copper unit in Tuticorin under the supervision of a local-level monitoring committee.

In its April 10, 2023, order, the top court had also allowed the evacuation of the remaining gypsum at the plant and made available the required manpower as requested by the company.

It had noted that the district collector had not recommended activities like undertaking a civil and structural safety integrity assessment study in the plant premises, removal and transportation of spares and equipment and evacuation of in-process reverts and other raw materials lying idle.

"As regards the actions which were not recommended by the district collector, C S Vaidyanathan, senior counsel appearing on behalf of the State of Tamil Nadu, states that the state government will once again evaluate whether any further or supplementary directions should be issued in that regard," the top court had noted in its April 10 order. PTI SJK ANB ANB

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