Fresh push for Neutrino plan, Cabinet Secretary holds meeting

The country’s ambitious basic science project - India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) - in Theni district is getting a fresh impetus. 

Published: 05th October 2019 04:34 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th October 2019 04:34 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The country’s ambitious basic science project - India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) - in Theni district is getting a fresh impetus. Newly appointed Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba on Friday held video-conferencing with top officials of Tamil Nadu and Kerala governments along with INO scientists to iron out pending issues. Chief Secretary K Shanmugam, Environment secretary Shambu Kallolikar and Housing secretary Rajesh Lakhoni represented Tamil Nadu. Kerala Chief Secretary Tom Jose and INO Director Vivek Datar were the others who took part in the high-level meeting. 

Reliable sources told Express that the Cabinet Secretary requested the parties to fast track the project considering the interest of the nation. Sources said Kerala forest department has sought the layout plan of the project to assess its environment impact on Mathikettan Shola National Park in Idukki district. Surendrakumar, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) and Chief Wildlife Warden, Kerala, confirmed that the department has given its comments and queries.

Environment secretary Shambu Kallolikar told Express that INO officials have been instructed to provide the complete layout plan of the project to Kerala. “After we receive final comments from Kerala, State Wildlife Board of Tamil Nadu, which has Chief Minister as chairman, will appraise the project and decide on recommending it to the Standing Committee of National Board for Wildlife (NBWL),” he said.

National Green Tribunal in November last year had ordered interim stay saying the project cannot be implemented till approval of NBWL since the project site falls within the eco-sensitive zone of Mathikettan Shola National Park. However, the tribunal had upheld the environment clearance issued by Union Environment Ministry.

Centre has to notify ESZ 
During the high-level meeting, officials of both Tamil Nadu and Kerala have highlighted that for neutrino project to be apprised the Union Environment Ministry has to notify the proposed eco-sensitive zone for Mathikettan Shola National Park. The project site is falling within 5 km from the boundary of the national park. Sources said Kerala forest department has sought the layout plan of the project to assess its environment impact on Mathikettan Shola National Park.

Surendrakumar, PCCF and Chief Wildlife Warden, Kerala, confirmed that the department has given its comments and queries. Environment secretary told Express that INO officials have been instructed to provide the complete layout plan of the project to Kerala. 

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