Observatory yet to get green nod

The India-based Neutrino Observatory is set for more delay as the National Green Tribunal on Monday kept its “environmental clearance” in abeyance because of the underground laboratory’s proximity to the Mathikettan national park.

The southern bench of the NGT asked the project proponents – departments of atomic energy and science and technology – to obtain a clearance from the National Board for Wildlife as the project site in Theni district may be within 5 km of a reserved forest.

The two departments then have to go for a fresh environmental clearance certification after receiving the green signal from the wildlife panel, sources told DH. A written order from the NGT is expected in the next 2-3 days.

The petition against the observatory was filed by Poo Ulagin Nanbargal, a Tamil Nadu-based NGO. The Rs 1,500-crore science laboratory is proposed to study cutting edge particle physics surrounding a spooky sub-atomic particle called neutrino. INO was approved by the Narendra Modi government in January 2015 after overcoming multiple regulatory hurdles.

But within a month of the approval, the NGO filed a petition in the NGT, challenging the 2011 environmental clearance given to the project.

Later, the green tribunal asked the state government to form an expert panel to review the environmental approvals on the INO project,  and the TN pollution control board was asked to take a decision based on the expert panel’s recommendations.

In a separate litigation, the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court also restrained the centre from commencing the work on INO.

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