SC allows Vedanta to operate its Tamil Nadu plant to produce medical oxygen

The apex court says Vedanta will not be allowed to enter and operate its copper smelting plant under the garb of this order

SC allows Vedanta to operate its Tamil Nadu plant to produce medical oxygen

Photo for representation only

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 27

The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed Vedanta to operate its oxygen production unit on standalone basis at its copper plant in Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu, which had been closed for three years due to environmental reasons.

The order came from a Bench led by Justice DY Chandrachud that said the plant would be operated for production of medical-grade oxygen only.

The order will continue till July 31, 2021 and further decision would be taken after assessing the ground situation with respect to Covid, it said.

The top court took into account the decision taken by the Tamil Nadu government at an all-party meeting on Monday to allow the re-opening of the Vedanta plant for production of medical oxygen for four months.

As a lawyer demanded that oxygen should be given to Tamil Nadu, Justice Chandrachud said, "The nation stands together in this moment. At present, Tamil Nadu's oxygen demands are met. In case of any future need, they can approach us for changes."

Noting that the order was passed only in view of the national need for oxygen, the top court made it clear that it would not create any equities in favour of Vedanta.

Vedanta had sought the court's permission for producing medical oxygen to be supplied free of cost to hospitals needing it for treatment of Covid patients. Senior advocate Harish Salve, representing Vedanta, said it would be able to produce 200 MT of liquid oxygen within 10 days.

Vedanta would not be allowed to enter and operate the copper smelting plant under the garb of this order, it said.

It set up a panel to oversee the reopening of Vedanta's oxygen plant.

Earlier, in an affidavit filed in the top court, the Tamil Nadu government had agreed to reopen Vedanta's plant temporarily for production of medical oxygen with sufficient safeguards.

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