Madras High Court delivers double blow to notorious polluter Vedanta-Sterlite

The Madras High Court denied Sterlite Copper’s plea to reopen its plant which was ordered closed in 2018. The court also found the company responsible for a disastrous sulphur dioxide (SO2) leak in 2013 that affected thousands of residents in Thoothukudi, a port city on the Gulf of Mannar in Tamil Nadu. Sterlite is a unit of global mining conglomerate Vedanta Ltd. The High Court proceedings marked a key moment in the community’s long fight against Sterlite. The High Court criticized Sterlite and the TNPCB for failing to ensure that an adequately-sized buffer zone (green belt) was established around the facility and sufficiently planted with trees. Green belts are so important, according to the Court, that authorities would have been justified in closing the Sterlite plant based solely on the company’s failure to maintain a buffer zone. Most importantly, the High Court decision reinforces a theme that runs through decades of Indian jurisprudence: the environment must be protected for future generations.