The project involves diversion of 7.60 hectares of forest land from the Changthang Cold Desert Wildlife Sanctuary in Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir. Photo: AFP
The project involves diversion of 7.60 hectares of forest land from the Changthang Cold Desert Wildlife Sanctuary in Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir. Photo: AFP

Panel clears plan for diversion of Ladakh forest area for national large solar telescope

Proposed by Bengaluru-based Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIAP) the national large solar telescope project involves installation of a '2-m class state-of-the-art solar telescope' in Ladakh

New Delhi: Paving the path for the National Large Solar Telescope (NLST) project in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, the wildlife panel of the union environment ministry has cleared a proposal for diversion of forest area.

Proposed by the Bengaluru-based Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIAP), an autonomous research institute wholly financed by the Indian government, the NLST project involves installation of a “2-m class state-of-the-art solar telescope" in Ladakh.

The project involves diversion of 7.60 hectares of forest land from the Changthang Cold Desert Wildlife Sanctuary in Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir. It was discussed at the recent meeting of the standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) on 2 March, which was led by environment minister Anil Madav Dave.

“The user agency (Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore) has mentioned that the present place is ideal location for establishment of the telescope for day time observations. After discussions, considering the scientific utility of the telescope, the Standing Committee decided to recommend the proposal along with the conditions prescribed by State Chief Wildlife Warden," said the minutes of the meeting of NBWL’s standing committee that were received by Mint.

NLST will allow Indian scientists and researchers to carry out cutting edge research aimed at understanding the fundamental processes in the sun. Ladakh region was chosen for the project as a site with optimal atmospheric properties like good number of sunshine hours with good astronomical seeing was a critical requirement.

As per IIAP, the telescope will enable observations with an unprecedented high spatial resolution that will provide crucial information on the nature of magnetic fields in the solar atmosphere. It will be one of the few telescopes in the world that will have a capability to do both day and night time astronomy.

It is believed NLST would be a unique research tool for the country and will attract several talented solar astronomers to the country.

Other main goals of the NLST project include studying of magnetic field generation and the solar cycle, dynamics of the magnetized regions, helioseismology, long term variability, energetic phenomena and activity and night time astronomy.

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