TUTICORIN: After a state government crackdown in the wake of gas leak forcing the plant to shut down for more than two months,Sterlite restarted its plant at Tuticorin on Sunday.

An expert panel appointed by the National Green Tribunal visited Sterlite’s copper smelting plant and conducted inspections as the authorities restarted the functioning of the plant.

The expert panel headed by IIT professor, P S T Pai monitored the plant as the process for production was set in motion. The panel is expected to submit a report on their observations to the green tribunal. “The team comprising IIT faculty P S T

Pai and Liji Philip, Central Pollution Control Board member-secretary J S Kamyotra, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) member-secretary S Balaji and another TNPCB official visited the plant around 10am and closely monitored the restart procedure till evening,” official sources said.

The plant restarted production after the Supreme Court refused to stay the National Green Tribunal order permitting it to start operations. The plant was shut down on March 30 by the state pollution control board after a gas leak that spread panic among the residents in the locality.

However, Sterlite got a relief from the National Green Tribunal that gave the go-ahead for restarting the plant and subsequently the Supreme Court also upheld the tribunal order.

“The oxygen supply plant was started on Sunday as a run-up to production. The copper smelting plant would be restarted in a week’s time,” said an official in Sterlite.

Though the green tribunal has given its go-ahead, environmentalists and a section of the local populace have been demanding complete shut down of the plant on ground of pollution.