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Mauna Kea’s Thirty Meter Telescope Project Sees Further Protests



In what can be seen are the most aggressive move of the protesters against the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) in the last seven years, was yesterday’s blockade along the way that led to the construction site.

Thursday saw the Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustees take a strong stand on the question of the TMT by withdrawing support, which it earlier promised. The TMT, construction of which commenced in March, now stands deferred, much to the opposition from the Hawaiian people.

The TMT has been planned as the world’s largest optical telescope, requiring an investment of $1.4 billion. If completed, it would spawn 18 stories and would, in fact, be the tallest building on Mauna Kea, the site proposed for the project. It will enable astronomers to study objects throughout the Milky Way and its neighboring galaxies.

The native Hawaiians, who are among the members of the opposition, have deep sentiments attached with the mountain. They have addressed their reservations in a letter to Governor Lingle, the Governor of Hawaii. They are not only opposing the building of the telescope due to its harmful impact on their culture and history, but are also contesting against the flawed process by which the construction contract was secured in the first place.

One of the points of concern of the natives was that at the time the construction permit was obtained, the project bearers did not establish the safety of the telescope with result to its impact on the natural resources and public health in the region. They also drew attention to the fact that the authorities did not confirm that the project would not draw benefits out of their sacred land.

From the ongoing mess, one thing is clear that both sides are very passionate about what they believe in and therefore, what is required is that all the Mauna Kea stakeholders come together and discuss a mutually agreeable plan for its future.

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