August 9, 2018 / 8:34 AM / 10 months ago

NGT grants Vedanta conditional access to its copper smelter

Police stand gurad outside a copper smelter controlled by London-listed Vedanta Resources in Thoothukudi in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, May 28, 2018. REUTERS/Sudarshan Varadhan/Files

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday granted Vedanta Ltd conditional access to its copper smelter in Tamil Nadu, which was shut down by the state government two months ago on environmental grounds.

The court said Vedanta employees could enter the smelter premises for “administrative purposes” but the company was not allowed to resume operations.

The court was hearing Vedanta’s request to reopen the plant and the hearing will resume on Aug. 20.

The government of Tamil Nadu ordered the permanent closure of the Thoothukudi plant and disconnected its power supply in May, saying the plant was polluting.

Its decision followed protests that turned violent, culminating in police firing on protesters, killing 13 of them. The protesters had demanded a permanent shutdown of the plant, which they said was causing air and water pollution.

Vedanta has said the protests were based on false notions and that the plant was closed due to “political considerations and to appease the public protests.”

Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan; Editing by Malini Menon and Susan Fenton

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