India’s government may be rethinking the siting of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea, India media reported Tuesday.

Ashutosh Sharma, secretary in the Department of Science and Technology under India’s Ministry Of Science And Technology, told The Hindu that India would like it to move to an alternate location if permits are in place to do so.

“The difficulty is that even if construction were to go ahead, there could be future agitations,” he told the paper.

An artist concept of the TMT primary mirror.

TMT International Observatory

If construction can’t proceed on Mauna Kea, TMT is eyeing a site in La Palma, an island territory of Spain off the coast of Africa.

India, specifically its Department of Science and Technology, is a key player in the international consortium trying to build TMT. Universities in India are helping to design software and optics for the telescope.

Others in the consortium include California Institute of Technology, the University of California, the National Institutes of Natural Sciences of Japan, the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Canada’s National Research Council.

The TMT International Observatory is pursuing building permits for the La Palma site. It has the support of local officials there as well.

Protesters on Mauna Kea successfully halted construction of the TMT in 2019. In December, Gov. David Ige announced that the TMT International Observatory would not be proceeding with construction for at least a few months.

Project officials have given no timeline for when they might try to restart construction. They’ve stated that their preferred site is still on Mauna Kea.

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