Chennai, Sep 3: The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court on Monday directed the Tamil Nadu Government to frame rules within 90 days on appointment of head of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board and other members.
A division bench while disposing of a writ petition filed by retired IAS officer Devasahayam questioning the transfer of board chief on the eve of an expert enquiry into the functioning of the Sterlite copper smelter plant in Thoothukudi.
The National Green Tribunal has constituted an expert committee to go into the status of the plant on a petition filed by Vedanta group last month and it is expected to begin its enquiry shortly. The transfer of board chairman Mohammed Nazimuddin and the appointment of senior IAS officer Shambhu Kallolikar in his place at this juncture would affect the enquiry, the petitioner pleaded.
While refusing to interfere with the transfer, the bench said the enquiry committee was free to seek the counsel of Nazimuddin though he has been transferred and posted as Secretary, Energy Department on Aug 23 last.
The Tamil Nadu Government told the court that it had already challenged in the Supreme Court the appointment of an expert committee by the green tribunal. The court said that while framing rules, the Government should go by the guidelines already issued by the Supreme Court.
Environmental activists have said that the Government wants to favour the Vedanta group by transferring Nazimuddin . They even wrote to the Chief Minister to rescind the order as “it will send a wrong signal to the public about the sincerity of the Government to keeping the plant shut”.
They said Nazimuddin is a man of integrity and he enjoys public confidence. Moreover, he is well informed on the Sterlite issue. His sudden transfer s in violation of Supreme Court diktat against ad hoc appointments in PCBs and its direction to States to frame rules to ensure that suitable professionals and experts are appointed, they have said.
Devasahayam moved the court after the Government ignored the letter from the acvitists. The Sterlite plant was shut by the TNPCB after mass protests in Thoothukudi led to police firing in which 13 died.
Vedanta moved the green tribunal contending that the Government had succumbed to public pressure and shut the plant. The tribunal thereupon set up an expert committee to visit the plant.