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TN Govt Says Air Quality Improved After Sterlite Plant’s Closure

The state was replying to Vedanta’s plea challenging the plant’s closure.

Tamil Nadu state government on October 28, informed the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that the air quality around the Sterlite Copper plant in Thoothukudi has improved since the plant’s closure.

The state was replying to Vedanta’s plea challenging the plant’s closure, reported The Hindu.

Representing the state, Senior counsel C.S. Vaidyanathan, quoting Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) data, said levels of SO2 and other chemicals in the air had gone down. On September 22, 2017, the SO2 level was recorded at 20 micrograms per cubic metre around the plant whereas on October 12 and 13, 2018, SO2 levels came down to less than 5 micrograms.

Air quality
(Photo: Facebook/Sterlite Copper)

Similarly, nitrogen levels came down to seven micrograms from 15 micrograms.

“The industry’s contention was that there was no appreciable increase in the ambient air quality even after the Sterlite plant was closed. However, based on the above comparison, it clearly shows that the level of SO has very much reduced in the ambience,” said an inference drawn from TNPCB data.

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The PM10 level were however, recorded a little higher but the counsel said, “The increase in PM10 (particulate matter) could be due to the dust (that) emanated from the dump of gypsum, slag and (from) the secured landfill facility (at the Sterlite plant).”

On April 9, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) had rejected the Vedanta’s application to renew the plant’s licence. On May 22, 13 people staging protests against the expansion of the smelter were killed in police firing, following which the state government gave orders to permanently shut down the plant on May 28.

Residents of the area had been protesting against the plant for almost two decades, claiming that the plant had contaminated the region’s air and water.

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