The largest copper smelter, Sterlite Copper, of the country has found itself in controversy. It is no coincidence. The root of this controversy can be traced back to 20 years when this company was seeking permissions and was denied to set up any plant by three states i.e. Goa, Gujarat, and Maharashtra. Then, the company proposal was accepted by Tamil Nadu government and a plant was set up In Thoothukudi town of Southern Tamil Nadu, in the year 1994. In 1998, a committee appointed by Madras High Court finds that the company has been established in clear violation of a stipulation put on by the state government i.e. the plant would be built 25 Km from the Gulf of Mannar.
Meanwhile, the plant continued its operation while simultaneously producing gas and polluting the environment to such an extent that it started affecting people’s health. After 10 years of continued operation, Madras High Court ordered the plants shut down citing devastating effect on people’s health due to pollutants produced as a by-product in company’s operation. In April 2013, the Supreme Court overturns the judgment of Madras High Court and after three months National Green Tribunal allowed the company to re-start its operations. Now, it is only in 2018 when the company decides to establish its second unit and increase its production, that the issue comes to the surface, for one more time. The establishment of the 2nd unit is the cause of the current unrest.
Yesterday, NGT restricted the company to have any interim relief maybe because the protest and fight with the establishment were extremely violent in Tamil Nadu. This the same NGT which agreed with the apex court and allowed the company to continue with its operation. Whatever happens, this time court and NGT, both should prioritize public health and safety first, if they do not, then the public might themselves prioritize their own self-interest.
Tags : #India#Sterlite Copper#In trouble