With protests by the indigenous population stalling the project in Mauna Kea in Hawaii, the Thirty Metre Telescope (TMT) project may be heading to Hanle Ladakh. The 1.47-billion dollar International Observatory, aimed at exploring the universe, is set to become the largest in the world.

Mauna Kea, Hawaii was the first choice for the project. But the Supreme Court of Hawaii cancelled the permit issued to TMT to construct the International Observatory in December 2015 after it was claimed that the plot in Mauna Kea was sacred.

India will, however, have to compete against Chile, which is another probable location for the telescope. But India is already contributing to the software of TMT apart from building edge sensors, actuators and system support assemblies. India is reportedly also a 10% partner in the TMT project, which also includes China, Japan, Canada, and the US. In India, the project is handled by the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Department of Atomic Energy. India there has a major edge against the South American nation. So, chances are quite healthy that Hawaii’s loss may now become India’s gain.

This isn’t the first time that construction of a telescope has been a cause of controversy. Earlier this year, construction of the Five hundred meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST) fell into a major controversy. It was reported that its construction led to the forced relocation of nearly 9,000 local residents. However, construction on the project began in 2011, and is expected to be completed by September 2016.




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