The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed Vedanta to operate its closed oxygen plant at Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu, saying the order has been passed in view of “national need” for oxygen as reported by PTI.
A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud, L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat said Vedanta shall not be allowed to enter and operate its copper smelting plant under the garb of this order.
The top court said there should be no political bickering over the generation of oxygen by Vedanta as the country is facing a national crisis.
It said the order allowing Vedanta to operate the plant would not create any equity in its favour.
The apex court also asked Tamil Nadu to form a panel, including the district collector and the Tuticorin superintendent of police, to monitor activities at Vedanta’s oxygen plant.
On April 23, the top court had said people are dying due to lack of oxygen, and questioned the Tamil Nadu government on why it can’t take over Vedanta’s Sterlite copper unit at Tuticorin, closed since May 2018 over pollution concerns, for producing oxygen to treat Covid-19 patients.
“The copper smelter plant at Thoothukudi would be allowed to reopen for a period of four months only to manufacture oxygen. Under no circumstance will Vedanta be allowed to open or operate other plants that would be used for copper production. Based on the requirement of oxygen, the period might be extended. The electricity supply to the oxygen plants would be cut by the government after the specified period,” Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami had said.
The copper smelter plant at Thoothukudi was shut down in 2018 by Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board over environmental violations. On May 22, 2018, at least 13 people were killed and several others were injured when the state police fired at people who had taken out a demonstration against the construction of a new smelter plant by Vedanta.