TNPCB to set up six-member panel on Neutrino Observatory project feasibility

The committee will have three months to study the environmental impact and give its recommendations on the project which was opposed by some activists and the local people.

Published: 04th March 2017 04:08 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th March 2017 04:08 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

CHENNAI: After Nearly Two years, the country’s ambitious basic science project – India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) seems to be moving forward after the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) proposed to form a six-member expert technical committee to look into the matter.

The committee will have three months to study the  environmental impact and give its recommendations on the project which was opposed by some activists and the local people. The names have been forwarded to the Department of Environment, and the final ratification and issuing the order on forming the panel would be by the Chief Minister ‘Edappadi’ K Palaniswami, the TNPCB sources told Express.

At the hearing of a petition in this connection on Friday, the southern Bench of the National Green Tribunal gave the State a week to form the committee.

The TNPCB counsel Yasmeen Ali submitted the names of six expert members – R Velraj, professor and director,  Institute of Energy Studies; A Pandurangan, head, department of chemistry, Anna University; M Suresh Gandhi, Department of Geology, and K Sivaji, Department of Nuclear Physics, University of Madras; Nehru Kumar Vaithilingam, director, Centre for Environmental, Health and Safety, Annamalai University; and S Balaji, former chief conservator of forest and former member-secretary of State Forest Commission. The committee will be co-ordinated by D Sekar, additional chief environmental enginner, TNPCB.

The expert panel will study various aspects of the project. The bench, comprising Justice P Jyothimani and expert member PS Rao, posted the case to March 10 for further arguments.

When contacted, D Indumathi, physicist, Institute of Mathematical Sciences and one of the spokespersons for the neutrino project, said that those behind the project were happy that the expert technical committee was formed.  

The project came to a halt after the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court passed an interim order on March 26, 2015, mandating clearance from the TNPCB before beginning construction work at the site. The key concerns raised by environmentalists was the project site was located on the Idukki-Theni charnockyte aquifer (ITCA), which fed three important river systems – Periyar, Vaigai and Vaippar.

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