Sterlite Industries (INDIA) Ltd etc v. Union of India and others etc
In the result, the appeals are allowed and the impugned common judgment of the High Court is set aside. The appellants, however, are directed to deposit within three months from today a compensation of Rs.100 crores with the Collector of Thoothukudi District, which will be kept in a fixed deposit in a Nationalized Bank for a minimum of five years, renewable as and when it expires, and the interest therefrom will be spent on suitable measures for improvement of the environment, including water and soil, of the vicinity of the plant of the appellants after consultation with TNPCB and approval of the Secretary, Environment, Government of Tamil Nadu.
The 400,000 tonne capacity plant of Sterlite Industries, considered the cheapest copper smelter in the world. The unspecified gas leak on March 23 had triggered public protests. Later, Tuticorin collector ordered officials to inspect the premises of the plant.
Earlier, in 1997, two workers were affected by a similar gas leak and residents had complained of suffocation. The depositions recorded by the Corporate Accountability Desk of MoEF during a civil society public hearing on EIA-related issues in Delhi in November 2005 show that Sterlite Industries was operating without valid consent to operate.