The Supreme Court today extended its stay on the Madras High Court order for closure of Sterlite Industries' copper smelter plant in Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu.
The apex court, which had stayed the high court order in October, last year, will now hear the matter in January. The plant will remain in operation till then.
The Supreme Court, meanwhile, gave interim directions to the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board to seek improvement of the plant's pollution control facilities and grant the company time for compliance.
Sterlite had moved the SC in September last year challenging the high court order directing the company to shut its smelter plant for violating pollution control and environment regulations.
Sterlite, however, insists that it had complied with all pollution control and environment rules. The company also opposed penalties for contamination.
Sterlite had, earlier, clarified that a committee comprising officials from NEERI, Nagpur, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and TNPCB and the PIL petitioners, including MDMK leader Vaiko, had visited Sterlite Copper from 6 to 8 April 2011 as per a Supreme Court order dated 25 February 2011.
"Sterlite Copper extended full cooperation to all during the inspection. Sterlite would like to further clarify that as per the Hon'ble Supreme Court order, only PIL petitioners were allowed to be present during the inspection. However, on the request of Mr Vaiko (who is one of the PIL petitioner), four assistants, including Mr Nithyanand Jayaram, a Chennai-based NGO was allowed to be part of the inspection team," the company said in its clarification.
Sterlite said the committee had drawn necessary samples at all points, including those suggested by the PIL petitioners. However, "Vaiko has chosen to give misleading statements in the press," Sterlite said.