Major Indian science projects hit by legal, political delays: Nobel laureate

A file photo of Nobel Laureate David Gross   | Photo Credit: Bhagya Prakash K

India isn't moving fast enough on major scientific projects due to ‘political and legal delays,’ David Gross, physicist and 2004 Nobel laureate, told an audience at a prelude to the Vibrant Gujarat summit in Ahmedabad.

Gross was referring to the stalled India Neutrino Observatory, a massive underground detector of subatomic particles, proposed to come up in Tamil Nadu. The detector is to come up in an ecologically-fragile zone and has invited opprobrium by activist groups. Despite entreaties by scientists that the detector was not a threat to the environment, it is yet to get state-level clearances. “India had to go beyond being a minor collaborator in big science research projects and take the lead but there have been inexcusable political and legal delays,” said Gross, “China is fast seizing these opportunities.”

He also referred to the government's nod last year on having an India-based arm of an observatory to detect gravitational waves, called LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Observatory). This was after signs of gravitational waves, resulting from the collision of two massive black holes 1.3 billion light-years from earth, were announced last year by a team of scientists across the world, including several from India. PM Modi announced support for LIGO India, last February but there's been little headway, such as a decision on the location of the detector, since.

India isn't the only country to face environmental hurdles to large observatories. A proposed Thirty Metre Telescope in Hawaii is likely to be shifted out after protests by environmentalist groups. " I don't see (India's) hurdles as environmental but from lack of strong political will,” Gross told The Hindu on the sidelines, "Withdrawal of currency may be good or bad but PM Modi has gone ahead and done it."

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2022 6:07:33 PM |

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