Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) chief Madhav Gadgil on Wednesday evaded a question whether the committee was aware of the move to set up Indian Neutrino Observatory (INO) close to Kerala in the Western Ghats.
Talking to ‘Express’ over phone, Gadgil said he did not have the details to peruse whether the issue of setting up the INO at Theni in Tamil Nadu had come up before the panel while preparing the summary report during the last few years. Gadgil said the committee had done its duty of preparing the summary report and had submitted it to the government about a year ago. “The panel’s responsibility ended there. And now, it is for the Central Government to think about the fate of the report,” he said.
Several things had taken place in the intervening period about which panel had no idea, he said. On persisting about the stand of the panel on the INO project in Theni, he said that Krishnan from Tamil Nadu was the member in the panel representing the state and it was for him to give details about it. However, efforts to contact Krishnan did not yield any result. When asked if the work on the INO would make any impact on the geologically sensitive zone of Idukki where several dams are located, Gadgil passed the buck on V S Vijayan, the former chief of the State Biodiversity Board, without knowing that Oommen V Oommen had replaced him sometime ago.
When the same question was posed to Oommen, he said he would not like to comment on the matter before conducting a detailed study. The WGEEP report suggests restriction on any work that would harm the biodiversity. He said it is not known whether constructing a tunnel inside the proposed rocky hill would affect the biodiversity of the region. “If there is no threat to the existence of any organism owing to the activity, then there should not be any problem with the project,” he said. Meanwhile, sources said the state government had not conducted any study on the project till date. The Special Branch of the police had given a report to the government without any data to back it.