'National calamity': Supreme Court allows Vedanta to run oxygen plant
New Delhi, Apr 27: Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed Vedanta to operate oxygen production unit at its Sterlite copper plant in Tuticorin, in Tamil Nadu, on a stand-alone basis.
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.
"There is a national crisis. People are dying.... We have to get the local community on our side," said Justice DY Chandrachud.
"No political bickering. We are in the time of a national crisis. We are here to protect lives of citizens.We have to support nation as a court. It is a national calamity," the court said.
However, the top clarified that the order allowing Vedanta to operate its oxygen plant would not create any equity in favour of company.
The apex court asked Tamil Nadu to form a panel, including the district collector and th Tuticorin superintendent of police, to monitor activities at Vedanta's oxygen plant.
"We'll request NEERI to nominate 3 experts from Tamil Nadu and Colin Gonsalves can also choose 2 experts in the case. Then there will be 5 experts. The oversight committee can discuss with the committee of experts," ustice DY Chandrachud said.
On Monday, the Tamil Nadu goverment resolved to allow Vedanta's Sterlite Industries in Thoothukudi to produce oxygen for a four-month period amid surging covid cases, paving the way for the partial reopening of the copper smelter closed in 2018 over pollution concerns.
The unit was sealed by the state government in May 2018, days after 13 agitators were killed in police firing during a violent anti-Sterlite protest in the southern district.