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Tamil Nadu pollution control chief's transfer "untimely", meant to help Sterlite: Senior activist

By Our Representative
Henri Tiphagne, lawyer, human rights trainer and defender, and executive director, People's Watch India, has appealed to civil society activists to to sign and send the following memorandum to the Chief Minister and Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu urgently protesting against the transfer of Nasimuddin, IAS, from his role as chairperson, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), calling it an "ill-timed" move, which sends the wrong signals to the public about the sincerity of the Government in keeping Vedanta Sterlite shut.
"Nasimuddin enjoys public confidence, and is perceived to be a person of integrity and intelligence. He has been involved and informed about Sterlite's operations in Thoothukudi. His continued presence as TNPCB Chairperson would be invaluable given the imminence of the NGT-appointed enquiry Committee less than two weeks from now", says Tiphagne, adding, "The transfer is not merely ill-timed, but legally fraught."
According to Tiphagne, "Coming down heavily on the ad hoc appointment of IAS officials as TNPCB Chairpersons in violation of various environmental statutes, the Supreme Court has in its judgement dated September 22, 2017 in Civil Appeal No. 1359/2017 directed all states to frame 'appropriate guidelines or recruitment rules within six months, considering the institutional requirements of the SPCBs, and the law laid down by the statute, by this Court and as per the reports of various committees and authorities so as to ensure that suitable Professionals and Experts are appointed to the SPCBs'."
Says Tiphagne, "The deadline has passed without Tamil Nadu taking any steps to frame guidelines for appointment of chairperson to SPCB. In the meantime, it has sought to replace one ad hoc appointee with another in violation of well settled positions of law. No public interest will be served by transferring a well-informed officer on the eve of a critical enquiry relating to the fate of Vedanta's Sterlite Copper smelter."

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