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Indian court says committee to decide fate of shut Vedanta copper smelter

Indian court says committee to decide fate of shut Vedanta copper smelter
FILE PHOTO: Government officials seal the Thoothukudi copper smelter controlled by London-listed Vedanta Resources in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, India, May 28, 2018. REUTERS/Sudarshan Varadhan/File Photo   -   Copyright  Reuters Staff(Reuters)
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NEWDELHI (Reuters) – India’s environment court said on Monday an independent judicial committee will decide in about six weeks whether to allow Vedanta Ltd <VDAN.NS> to reopen its copper smelter, which was shut by the southern state of Tamil Nadu on environmental grounds.

Tamil Nadu ordered the permanent closure of the plant and disconnected its power supply in May following protests that turned violent and culminated in the police opening fire on protesters, killing 13 of them.

The company has denied that the plant, India’s second biggest copper smelter located in the port city of Thoothukudi, pollutes the area.

National Green Tribunal (NGT) Chairman Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said the committee, including representatives from Vedanta, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board and the federal environment ministry, will look into the matter afresh.

The committee, to be headed by a retired judge, will have to deliver its verdict within four weeks of formation.

The smelter has an annual production capacity of more than 400,000 tonnes, and the company said last month the closure has impacted 350 companies that buy its products.

The NGT earlier this month granted Vedanta, the Indian unit of London-listed Vedanta Resources Ltd <VED.L>, conditional access to the smelter for “administrative purposes”.

(Reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj; Editing by Sunil Nair)

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