Tamil Nadu copper smelting plant ordered to stop operations

Chennai, March 30 (IANS) The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) Friday ordered closure of the Sterlite Industries' copper smelting plant at Tuticorin with immediate effect, and power supply to the plant has been cut off, a company official said.

"The TNPCB issued the order to shut down the plant with immediate effect and the power utility yesterday (Friday) night disconnected the power supply to the plant. We are in the process of stopping the operations, an official told IANS over phone from Tuticorin, 600 km from here.

The order comes after the leakage of noxious gas from the plant March 16, leading to nausea and skin irritation among a section of people.

Subsequently, there were protests and the district administration had ordered an inquiry into the incident.

An official of TNPCB in Tuticorin said the order was issued by his head office here. However, senior officials were not available for comments.

In 2010, the Madras High Court had ordered Sterlite Industries to shut down the copper smelting plant for violating environmental norms. However, the order was challenged by the company in the Supreme Court, which is expected to decide on the fate of the plant April 2.