Neutrino Project in Theni gets MoEFCC nod

In a move that is expected to raise the hackles of environmental groups and political parties in Tamil Nadu, the Union ministry of environment, forests and climate change on Monday officially gave the go- ahead for the India-based Neutrino Observatory project in Thenidistrict.
Several activists charged that the nod to the project was in violation of established laws in the country, with a Chennai-based organisation saying, based on a RTI reply, that no public hearing was conducted of those likely to be affected by the project.

A letter from the ministry addressed to Prof V M Datar, project director INO and senior professor at Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), which is the nodal agency for the project, said the Expert Appraisal Committee, after detailed deliberations during meetings on January 25 and March 5, recommended grant of environmental clearance.

As per the EAC recommendations, construction of the INO is permitted at Pottipuram village in Uthamapalayam taluk of Theni district under provisions of the EIA Notification, 2006, and amendments/circulars issued thereon and subject to specific and general conditions, it said.

The conditions include obtaining consent to establish/operate the project from the state pollution control board; clearances from the forest authorities and the National Board for Wildlife as per the law; the approval of the competent authority to ensure the structural safety of the proposed buildings in case of all disasters, including earthquakes; maintaining a proper network of fire fighting equipment as per the national building code, including adopting preventive measures to guard against lightning.

Environmental activists who had been waging a long battle against the project are incensed and say it is another examkle of the Centre disregarding the sentiments and considerations of the local people for a project. In fact, hours before the ministry nod became public, Chennai-based Poovulagin Nanbargal, an NGO, received a reply to a query under the RTI Act, with Theni district environmental engineer M Vijayalakshmi saying: “Public hearing was not conducted. No details available in this office file records.” This only proves that no rules were followed during clearance fo the project, said Sundararajan of Poovulagin Nanbargal.
He later tweeted: “We strongly condemn the enviro clearance granted by the ministry of enviro & forests to the Neutrino project. This clearance is Ilegal, as it has violated the established laws of this country and a categorical order of NGT. While The NGT has said it is category A project in its judgment,the Moeff has still gone ahead and cleared as category B prj. No public hearing was conducted and no proper EIA was done. This is anti-constitutional, anti people and anti- national. We will strongly take this up In court of Law and in the people’s court.” He also wanted political parties to take up the cause and get the clearance withdrawn.
This news has raked up a lot of reactions on Twitter.

Source: Times of India

Compiled by Megha Kaveri