MADURAI: MDMK general secretary Vaiko on Wednesday filed a public interest litigation petition in the Madras High Court (Madurai Bench) challenging the setting up of the Neutrino Observatory Project at Pottipuram village in Theni district.
In his petition, Vaiko submitted that the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest had in June 2011 granted environmental clearance for the establishment of the India-based Neutrino Observatory. The Department of Atomic Energy also received final sanction for the construction of observatory, the biggest underground science laboratory in the under belly of the Western Ghats. In January, this year, the Centre sanctioned the `1,500-crore project.
Pointing out that reservoirs in Idukki and south Tamil Nadu including Vaigai and Periyar dams were located in the vicinity, Vaiko contended that undertaking blasting works in the zone can damage the underground aquifers and hence impact the flow of water.
Further heavy use of novel chemical compounds in the project would poison the ground water. “While 40 percentage of the project area is in Kerala, the Department of Atomic Energy neither conducted public hearing nor obtained approval from the Kerala Government,” he said.
According to him, building deep underground tunnels would also disturb the underground water flow and affect the alignment of hydro-geological structures. There was a possibility of radioactive contamination in the natural resources including water and soil.
He said that implementing the project would also result in removing 8 lakh tonnes of rock through blasting using about 5 to 10 lakh kilograms of explosives. This would also weaken the dams in the region, he contended.
Further, caving the hill would also result in generating about one million tonnes of muck, of which one lakh tonnes will be in dust form and 10,000 tonnes in nanometer size, which would contaminate the farm lands and water resources in Tamil Nadu. Hence he sought a direction restraining the Union and State Governments executing the Neutrino project.