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Hawaii board delays decision on location for giant telescope

AP  |  Honolulu 

A key decision on where to place a USD 1.4 billion giant telescope, developed in collaboration among research institutes of India, Japan, and China, has been delayed.

The board of governors for the International Observatory is still considering whether to allow construction to go forward on the targeted site, Mauna Kea, a mountain in An alternative location in Spain's remains under consideration, the board said in a statement Friday.

"We continue to assess the ongoing situation as we work toward a decision," said Ed Stone, the of the Mauna Kea "remains our preferred choice."

The board hasn't provided a timeline for a decision as it plans to let legal and regulatory challenges play out on both sites.

Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano and Hawaii's tallest mountain, was selected in July 2009 as the target location for the telescope after a five-year search.

Scientists called it the best location in the world for astronomy, given a stable, dry, and cold, climate, which allows for sharp images. The atmosphere over the mountain also provides favorable conditions for astronomical measurements, according to the TMT website.

But the telescope project has been subject to years of debate -- researchers say it will help usher scientific and economic developments, while opponents maintain it will hurt the environment and desecrate land considered sacred by some Native Hawaiians. Mauna Kea already houses a number of high-powered

"Thirty years of development has resulted in adverse significant impact to the natural and cultural resources of Mauna Kea," said Kealoha Pisciotta, of Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, an indigenous, Native group that works on environmental issues.

"Trying to build more would have added to the cumulative impact." On Thursday, the approved a bill to ban new construction atop Mauna Kea, and included a series of audits and other requirements before the ban could be lifted.

But House and versions of the bill differ, so the two chambers would need to negotiate the differences in a conference committee. House leaders say they don't have plans to advance the bill.

told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that the "bill is dead on arrival in the House." He said laws concerning the mountain should not be passed while litigation is pending.

There are also two appeals before the Supreme Court. One focuses on the use permit issued by the Hawaii Board of Land and The other has been brought by a Native man who says the use of the land interferes with his right to exercise cultural practices and is thus entitled to a case hearing.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, April 14 2018. 16:30 IST