“The BJP wants the neutrino and the DMK is against the project. The officers are caught in Centre-state politics and are treated badly by the top brass in the Union Ministry of Commerce,” said a top official source. Some of the Forest Department officials in the field had also reached out to state government informing about the ‘bureaucratic pressure’ imposed on them by Delhi. Tactical stand of reducing the buffer and sensitive area between Megamalai Forest in TN and Madhikettan Forest in Kerala is planned and this is against the existing environmental laws, a senior official explained.
INO contradicts state’s view on forest land
Meanwhile, India based Neutrino observatory (INO), Pottupuram Research Centre in a statement on Thursday contradicted the views of state government. “Some media channels have reported that a scrutiny of the proposal by the Environment and Forest Department of Tamil Nadu revealed that the construction site spread over 31.45 hectares (Ha) was falling inside the Mathikettan-Periyar Tiger corridor. We wish to correct this statement, INO said.
The extent of land for the project comprises 26.825 Ha of revenue land above ground and 4.62 Ha of land underground comprising the tunnels and lab caverns. It is to be noted that the surface facilities are purely restricted to the 26.825 Ha of revenue land and lie completely outside the adjoining Reserve Forest (RF); hence there will be no disturbance to the reserve forest or tiger corridor from surface facilities, the INO said.
Project director Gobinda Majumdar, Pottipuram Research Center, TIFR, Mumbai in a statement clarified that of the 4.62 Ha of underground construction, it is clarified that the tunnel entrance begins in revenue land and the horizontal tunnel (just like a railway tunnel) is several 10s of m deep before it enters the forest land. The tiger corridor lies completely within the forest land. Hence there will be no obstruction to tiger movement since there will be no activity on land. The only activity will be deep under the forest. Again, we highlight that the diversion of forest land is notional and there will never be any construction in forest land, only deep under it, the statement said.