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Here in the National Green Tribunal, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board pleaded for not to hear an appeal of Vedanta Group firm, Sterlite Industries Limited, against its order directing closure of the company’s copper smelting plant in Tuticorin district of Tamil Nadu.

The TNPCB contended that Sterlite’s plea is not maintainable in the Tribunal (NGT) as the company had bypassed the appellate authority set up under the statute to hear the appeals.

Countering the contention, Sterlite said as there was no functional appellate authority in existence when TNPCB’s order was passed, it was justified in directly moving to the NGT.

The group company of UK-based Vedanta Resources urged the NGT to decide the issue of maintainability of its appeal and also whether the TNPCB’s May 30 order for closure of the copper plant be upheld or not as the unit is incurring a loss of Rs 50 crore per day.

A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar, which was prepared to reserve orders on whether it should hear the appeal, decided to continue hearing arguments on whether the TNPCB’s order be upheld or set aside.

The Bench will hear further arguments on May 16.

During the proceedings, senior advocate C A Sundaram, appearing for Sterlite, argued that its appeal is maintainable as when the plant was ordered to cease operations, there was no functional appellate authority in existence and challenges to TNPCB’s orders were being heard by the NGT’s Chennai Bench.

He said the appellate authority was non-functional as it had only a single member on its Bench as against the requisite strength of three members.

Counsel for TNPCB, however, contended that the company should have gone to the High Court seeking constitution of the appellate authority instead of directly approaching the NGT which was not provided for under the statute.

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