An Indian court refused to allow the reopening of a south Indian copper smelter, local media reported on Tuesday, over two years after it was shut over pollution concerns.

The decision was announced by two-member bench, comprising justices TS Sivagnanam and V Bhavani Subbaroyan. The bench said that the orders should have been pronounced on March 11 but the pandemic delayed the process.

Police in May 2018 killed 13 people protesting against alleged pollution from the smelter. A week after the bloodshed, the Tamil Nadu state government ordered the smelter shut.

A spokeswoman for Sterlite Copper, a unit of Vedanta Ltd, did not immediately comment on the matter. A lawyer for the Tamil Nadu government did not respond to messages and calls seeking comment on the Madras High Court judgment.

The Sterlite copper smelting plant was shut it 2018 due to environmental concerns. The state government subsequently issued a closure order on May 28, 2018, against the plant, days after a protest against Sterlite ended violently with police opening fire on protesters, killing 13 people.

Earlier, Sterlite had approached the Supreme Court in 2019 which directed the company to approach the Madras high court.