The court had scheduled a hearing for January 27, but the petitioner’s side requested an extension, claiming that its attorney was ill with Covid-19.
The Union government has requested an urgent hearing in the Supreme Court after Tamil Nadu blocked the building of the India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) in the Bodi West Hills of the Western Ghats in Theni district.
Senior attorney and assistant solicitor general Aishwarya Bhati allegedly told a two-judge bench of Justices Vineet Saran and Aniruddha Bose that there were certain changes related to the neutrino project that needed to be brought to the Supreme Court’s attention. G Sundarrajan, an environmental activist, has filed a lawsuit in court, contesting the National Green Tribunal’s decision to uphold the project’s environmental clearance.
The court had scheduled a hearing for January 27, but the petitioner’s side requested an extension, claiming that its attorney was ill with Covid-19. The hearing was postponed by two weeks by the court. Never before has the Union government displayed such urgency by requesting an immediate hearing, prompting suspicion about whether it has chosen to shift the project out of Tamil Nadu or is pressuring the State government to resolve the barriers through the courts.
There is always the possibility of identifying alternate sites, according to a scientist involved with the neutrino research. “We’re waiting for orders from the Centre, and we’re hoping the State administration will approve the observatory’s construction in Theni.” On the research and development front, there has been a lot of advancement.”
However, a top State government official stated unequivocally that the project would not be permitted in Theni. Last year, a team from Tamil Nadu led by MP TR Baalu met with Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal in New Delhi to request that the project, which is proposed in the sensitive tiger corridor, be dropped.
MK Stalin, the Chief Minister, also wrote to the Prime Minister, stating that the project could not be approved at the proposed location.
The proposed location is in the Tiger Corridor.
According to the State Forest Department, the neutrino project site is located in the Mathikettan-Periyar tiger corridor, which is one of 32 such corridors recognized by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).