Faced With Sterlite Closure, Vedanta Offers 100 Crores For Public Welfare

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13 people were killed in police firing at Tamil Nadu's Tuticorin.

New Delhi:

Mining company Vedanta on Friday told the National Green Tribunal that it would invest Rs 100 crore in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu for public welfare, in addition to social work being carried out by it under the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

The submission was made by Vedanta's counsel during hearing of a plea challenging closure of its Sterlite copper plant at Tuticorin, the site of massive protests. At least 13 people were killed after people opened fire on protestors.

The firm told a bench headed by green court chairperson Justice AK Goel that its plea challenging closure of the plant was "maintainable" as per various provisions. The firm said there was not "enough proof" to suggest that it was affecting the health of people.

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Senior advocate C A Sundaram, appearing for Vedanta, said their plea has merits and they have accepted the report of an independent committee, constituted by the green tribunal to look into the allegations of environmental pollution by Vedanta-owned Sterlite copper factory.

The committee, headed by former Meghalaya High Court Chief Justice Tarun Agrawal, had said that no notice or opportunity of hearing was given to Vedanta before the closure of the plant.

"The impugned orders cannot be sustained as it is against the principles of natural justice. No notice or opportunity of hearing was given to the appellant. The grounds mentioned in the impugned orders are not that grievous to justify permanent closure of the factory. Other issues raised also does not justify the closure of the factory even if the appellant was found to be violating the conditions/norms/ directions," the committee had said.

During the hearing on Friday, Mr Sundaram said they would address all the issues mentioned in the committee's report. He said Vedanta has offered to invest Rs 100 crores for the people of Thoothukudi and the money could be used to construct schools, hospitals and supply of drinking water.

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