Thoothukudi: With the Tamil Nadu government's decision to appeal against the National Green tribunal (NGT) order favouring the private copper smelter plant 'Sterlite', the collector may not implement the tribunal order immediately.
In its order uploaded in the NGT website on Saturday, NGT had asked the Thoothukudi collector to issue necessary directions to Tangedco to restore power, and to the TNPCB to issue a Consent to Operate (CTO) order to the industry, within three weeks.
Collector Sandeep Nanduri, who is to monitor implementation of the order, however, quoting Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palanisamy’s decision to go for an appeal, said, “We need not consider the conditions stipulated in the NGT order to restore power or issue a CTO to the company, as the government has decided to go for an appeal in the Supreme Court.”
Rubbishing the TNPCB grounds for the closure of Sterlite plant, the NGT bench said: “With regard to the first ground, we find that the ground water analysis reports are available with the TNPCB. If anything was still required to be done in that regard by the appellant, this could not be a ground for rejecting consent for renewal or for closing the unit without opportunity of hearing to the appellant. Even if there is a technical breach as contended on behalf of TNPCB, the breach is trivial in nature causing no prejudice to anyone”.
The NGT said with regard to second ground propounded by the TNPCB, copper slag was not found to be hazardous nor has it been found to be obstructing the flow even on visit of the site by the committee appointed by it. Physical barrier could be directed to be constructed for the entire area.
“The fact remains that there was no opportunity given in this regard to the appellant (Sterlite) to comply with any such requirement. On this ground, refusal of consent to a running unit and its closure could not be justified”, the bench held.
It said as for the third ground, expiry of authorisation under the Hazardous Wastes (Management), Handling and Trans boundary Movement Rules, 2016 could not be a plea against the appellant as it had already submitted the requisite application whereas the TNPCB was “sitting over the matter”. Moreover, no harm has been caused by such technical breach. As regards the fourth ground of failure to analyse the parameters in the ambient air quality, there was nothing to show that Sterlite had caused any violation of air quality norms. “The appellant had conducted analysis and there was no requirement of analysis to be done in a particular laboratory in absence of TNPCB not having its own lab as stated in the order itself”, the NGT said.
The bench said the fifth ground, of not constructing gypsum pond as per the Central Pollution Control Board revised guidelines, was unfounded as time to do so was still available and pond had been earlier constructed as per guidelines then applicable. “Once it is so, the orders are liable to be quashed”, the bench concluded....