After Orrisa, Sterlite's Tuticorin copper smelter ordered to shut down

Sterlite Industries, India's largest non-ferrous metals and mining company and part of London-based Vedanta Resources, was yesterday ordered by the Madras High Court to immediately close its copper smelter plant in Tuticorin, for violating various environmental laws and causing pollution.

This is the second such stricture passed in India against the London AIM-listed Vedanta after the Indian government last month refused to give environmental clearance to its highly controversial $1.7 billion bauxite mining project in Orissa for violating the country's environment laws. (See: Government shuts down Vedanta's Orissa project)

A two-member bench comprising of Justice Elipe Dharmarao and Justice Paul Vasanthakumar delivered the order based on a writ petitions filed by National Trust for Clean Environment (NTCE) and MDMK General Secretary Vaiko.

The court also ordered the company to pay its employees16 day's wages for every year of service completed as compensation under Section 25 FFF of Industrial Disputes Act.

The court ordered the closure of the 14 year-old plant since it was located within 25km of the environmentally fragile zone near the Gulf of Mannar and the company did not develop green belt around the plant.

The court observed that the plant was in clear violation of the country's pollution laws and was operating without holding the necessary public hearing and environment impact assessment (EIA).