Chennai,May 9: The Madras High Court has upheld a notification of the Environment and Forest Ministry exempting from public consultation the proposed expansion of Sterlite Industries (India) Limited at Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu.
"In view of the consistent stand taken by all the authorities including SIPCOT (State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu Ltd) that Sterlite Industries is situated within the SIPCOT complex, we have no difficulty in holding that exemption from public consultation would certainly apply...," the court said, dismissing a PIL from Pushparayan, Project Director, East Coast Research and Development, Tuticorin. "..We do not find any merit in the writ petition and the same stands dismissed," The bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice MM Sundresh said.
SIPCOT had acquired land for industrial park out of which an 319.99 acres was allotted to Sterlite to set up a copper smelter plant as part of its expansion plans. The above acquisition was much before an EIA notification dated September 14,2006 which mandates public consultation as claimed by the petitioner, was issued.
The petitioner had filed the present plea challenging a Ministry's notification in 2009 granting exemption to the company in this regard, contending that it suffers from non-adherence of public consultation.
An office memorandum was issued by the Ministry clarifying that public consultation was not required for projects located within Industrial Estates notified prior to September 14, 2006 which was challenged but the petition was dismissed by the court.
When the above PIL came up before the court on March 23, counsel for the petitioner submitted that Sterlite's expanded unit was outside the area of SIPCOT and thus public consultation is required.
The Bench,oncerned and after going through documents, said "... On a perusal of the notifications also we are satisfied that no public consultation is required for the present case. The petitioner is unable to establish before us that the Sterlite is not situated within the SIPCOT Complex."