Editorial

Bending the rules — on nod for Neutrino project

A year after the National Green Tribunal suspended the environmental clearance granted(स्वीकृत)to the India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO), the Expert Appraisal(मूल्यांकन) Committee (Infra 2) of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate(जलवायु/मौसम) Change has overturned the NGT verdict(निर्णय/विचार) and granted environmental clearance for the project. The observatory(बेधशाला), which is to come up in Bodi West Hills in Theni district, Tamil Nadu, is regarded as a symbol not just of India’s push for research in particle physics; it also
signals the intent(प्रयोजन/आशय) to nurture centres of excellence. Neutrinos are subatomic(कण/टुकड़ी)particles that are extremely difficult to detect. The laboratory cavern(गुफा/खोह) will be located 1,300 metres underground, with an access tunnel. The rock cover is necessary to minimise the naturallyoccurring(घटनेवालाcosmic(लौकिक/ब्रह्मांडीय) ray(किरण/प्रभाव) backdrop. The project has become controversial(विवादास्पद) on environmental grounds, given the proposed site’s proximity to the Mathikettan Shola National Park in Kerala’s Western Ghats, a global biodiversity hotspot. However, considering the project’s national importance, the Environment Ministry had taken up the proposal for clearance as a “special case”. The green signal is conditional on getting the consent(सहमति/सम्मति देना) of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board and the National Board for Wildlife(वन्यजीव).Despite the 17 conditions laid down by the Expert Committee while granting approval, the manner in which the clearance was granted leaves much to be desired.
The project has been approved under category B item 8(a) — building and construction projects — of the Schedule to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2006. But it should have been treated as category A as the project lies just 4.9 km from the national park in Idukki district of Kerala. The NGT had ruled that it was indeed a category A project and the Tamil Nadu State expert appraisal committee also noted that it could not be appraised under category B 8(a) as tunnelling(सुरंग) and other activities went beyond the scope of the section. According to the 2006 notification, projects or activities that come under category A require “prior(पहले/अग्रिम)environmental clearance” from the Environment Ministry. Side-stepping the EIA requirement on technical grounds both by the project proponents and the Ministry is surely not the ideal way to go about such matters. For one, the EIA was done by the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology(पक्षीविज्ञान)and Natural History, which is an “unaccredited agency”. And though a public consultation with local people who have a “plausible stake(“सुव्यवस्थित हिस्सेदारी)” in the project was conducted in July 2010, the details of the meeting were submitted only by the end of February 2018. The importance of the project notwithstanding, treating it as a special case and bypassing the environmental clearance protocol sets a wrong precedent.

Important Vocabulary
1.Occurring(घटनेवाला)
Synonyms: appear, arise, crop up, develop, ensue
Antonyms:hide, precede, stop
2.Cosmic(लौकिक/ब्रह्मांडीय)
Synonyms: global, grandiose, huge, immense, infinite
Antonyms: limited, little, miniature, minute, small
3.Consent(सहमति/सम्मति देना)
Synonyms: acquiescence, approval, assent, authorization, blessing
Antonyms: denial, disagreement, disapproval, dissent, prohibition
4.Verdict(निर्णय/विचार)
Synonyms: answer, award, conclusion, decision, decree
Antonyms: accusation
5.Appraisal(मूल्यांकन)
Synonyms: assessment, evaluation, opinion, pricing, survey
6.Intent(प्रयोजन/आशय)
Synonyms: decided, hell-bent, preoccupied, resolved, alert
Antonyms: flexible, indefinite, soft, trivial, unconcerned

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