Thursday, June 20, 2024

SC allows maintenance work at Sterlite unit

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has allowed Vedanta Ltd to start maintenance work at its Sterlite Copper facility in Tuticorin, the company said in a statement on Monday.

“A three-member Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud today allowed Sterlite Copper to carry out upkeep of the plant,” it said. The matter is posted for hearing on 4 May.

Vedanta filed several applications urging the apex court to allow it to maintain the copper smelter plant. “The court considered the report of a high powered expert committee and recommendations of the state government and allowed Vedanta to carry out activities at the plant.”

The company now hopes that it might finally be allowed to start operations. “We are happy about today’s proceedings and directions from the Supreme Court. We look forward to carrying out the upkeep activities at the plant. Our stakeholders have expressed hope and cheer with development at the court and they are waiting for the plant to restart operations,” A Sumathi, chief operating officer, Sterlite Copper, was quoted in the press release.

The plant is closed since 2018 following orders by the state government after the death of 13 villagers in police firing while protesting for alleged pollution of ground water due to the unit.

Since its closure, India has become a net importer of the metal, which is crucial for its energy transition, from being a net exporter.

The company, controlled by Anil Agarwal was also working on selling the assets and had invited bids from prospective bidders in June 2022. The plan was later shelved.

The copper unit is a major employer in Tuticorin, providing both direct and indirect employment to thousands of people, Vedanta said. “The closure had a cascading effect on the local economy, leading to job losses and reduced economic activity. The SC order will bring cheer for a lot of people,” the statement read.

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