The Supreme Court today fined Sterlite Industries (India) Ltd, a subsidiary of London-listed Vedanta Resources, Rs100 crore for polluting the environment with its copper smelting plant in Tamil Nadu.
The Supreme Court overruled a 2010 ruling of the Madras High Court directing closure of the unit. However, it supported the high court ruling in most other respects.
Imposing the fine, a bench headed by Justice A K Patnaik said that the environment has been polluted for a long time by the discharge from the Sterlite plant.
The court said ''the compensation must act as a deterrent''; and the amount of compensation should be decided on the basis of financial strength of the company.
''An amount of less than Rs100 crore would not have the desired impact,'' the bench observed.
The case is unrelated to a separate order that has shut the 300,000 tonnes per year Tuticorin copper plant, India's largest, in the same state since last week following complaints of a gas leak.
In a statement, the company said, "Sterlite Industries would continue to work in close association with the Tamil Nadu state government and other regulatory bodies towards maintaining highest standards of health, safety and environment."
India consumes around 600,000 tonnes of copper annually - about 3 per cent of the world's total, far behind China which used around 9 million tonnes last year.