Decision to shut Sterlite unit hasty, Vedanta tells HC

[12/20, 07:33] Sekarreporter 1: Decision to shut Sterlite unit hasty, Vedanta tells HC:
[12/20, 07:33] Sekarreporter 1: Vedanta tells HC that G.O. was knee-jerk reaction to 13 deaths
People may protest on being misguided by dissemination of false information but such protests cannot become a guiding factor for the State to take drastic action against business establishments in violation of statutory mandates, private natural resources company Vendata Ltd. contended before the Madras High Court on Thursday while questioning permanent closure of its Sterlite copper smelter plant in Thoothukudi because of environment concerns.
Arguing before a Bench of Justices T.S. Sivagnanam and V. Bhavani Subbaroyan for the fourth consecutive day, senior counsel C. Ariyama Sundaram and P.S. Raman attempted to demonstrate before the court that the government’s decision to close down the plant permanently was solely because of the death of 13 protesters during the police firing on May 22, 2018 and not because of any proven charge of the plant having caused air and groundwater pollution.
[12/20, 07:34] Sekarreporter 1: ‘Patently blatant’
“Is it nuclear science to find out that the State’s action was nothing but a knee-jerk reaction,” Mr. Raman asked and asserted that the government’s hasty decision was patently blatant. He added that the government was under a statutory obligation to let the plant function since the latter had complied with all statutory requirements but it wanted the company that had invested ₹3,000 crore to wind up its plant and go to another State.
“It reflects the mental state of the respondents (State government and Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board),” the senior counsel said.
He said that completely false and wrong information was spread among the local people scaring them of cancer and such other health hazards though the data available with the Cancer Institute at Adyar in Chennai clearly proved that the number of cancer patients in Thoothukudi was much less than the State average.
Development index
The State average was 80.2 persons for every 1 lakh people whereas the corresponding figure for Thoothukudi was only 63.5 persons per lakh, he said. Referring to the Human Development Index which captures achievements across basic capabilities of health, education and living standards, he said Thoothukudi was ranked third when it came to health and the district was in a much higher position when compared to a metropolitan city such as Chennai.
Denying the charge of the copper plant being the reason for pollution and its consequent aftermath in Thoothukudi, Mr. Raman said, to prove such a charge, the government “would have to first prove that people in the district were actually suffering from bad health, secondly such bad health is because of me (Sterlite copper plant) and thirdly, the bad health is because of me alone and no one else. None of these three requirements have been proved.”
He would be continuing his arguments on Friday after which senior counsel C.S. Vaidyanathan would begin replying on behalf of TNPCB.

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